This week I am going to talk about “giving”. This is not a subject that is particularly embraced but it is one that can teach us plenty about grace.
No other chapters in the Bible use the word “grace” more often than Second Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9. They are a great template for the grace of giving in the New Covenant. Have a read and then I will take the following 10 key points out of it (and part of chapter 9):
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:1-15)
(1) They gave themselves first to the Lord(v5)
The Macedonian churches knew their priorities. Giving yourself to God first includes what you do with your money. Does God come before your money?
(2) They gave joyfully(v2)
God loves a cheerful giver – “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Corinthians 9:7)
(3) Giving is in response to Christ’s giving(v9)
He gave first.
(4) Grace giving is voluntary
Paul said he was not commanding them. (v8)
(5) Give out of a sincere desire, motivated by love(v8)
Let God’s love and generosity to you be the motivating factor.
(6) Give willingly(v10)
(7) Give as much as you are able to(v3)
Not just as much as you are able, but God’s grace will even allow you to go beyond your ability.
(8) The goal is equality(v13)
If we have extra, share with those who lack.
(9) Grace giving increases more growth in all areas(2 Corinthians 9:8, 10, 11)
(10) Give so the gospel may spread
“Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.” (2 Corinthians 9:13)