11/25/14 “Growing in the Grace of Giving” (Daily Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 7-9)

“But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

How do you feel when you hear someone speaking about the need to give? Many become defensive as they feel like they are about to be sent on a guilt trip suggesting that they are not giving enough. However, in God’s Word, giving is described as a grace in which we need to grow (2 Corinthians 8:6-7). As Peter speaks about other graces in which we need to grow (2 Peter 1:5-7), he writes, “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1:10-11). Should we all not want to grow in all Christian graces, including the grace of giving, so we may grow in our relationship with God, not stumble in our walk with Him, as we journey to our Heavenly Home?

In the opening passage above, the apostle Paul writes to the church at Corinth about the subject of giving. In his prior letter to the church there Paul had encouraged them to give to help the poor saints who were suffering from famine in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-3; cf. Acts 11:27-30). The Corinthians had started towards contributing money to help these needy saints, but, it appears, had become distracted and had not completed this work (2 Corinthians 8:6-8; 9:3-5). Paul had made preparations to make sure that the contribution was taken up in a manner that would prevent any accusations among those collecting these funds (2 Corinthians 8:16-23), but the Corinthians needed to act. They needed to give and complete what they had promised to do (2 Corinthians 9:1-5)!

How does God want me to give? What does He expect out of me when I give? God is not concerned so much with the amount we give, as He is concerned about what is going on in our hearts as we give. Consider from chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians some principles we learn concerning what God expects of us regarding our giving. First, God wants me to give myself to Him (cf. 2 Corinthians 8:5). In addition, He wants me to give, not grudgingly, but with a willing mind (2 Corinthians 8:12). In fact, God wants me to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 9:7). Furthermore, the Lord wants me to give generously with purpose and faith in Him and His ability to supply all my needs as I remember that if I sow bountifully, I will reap bountifully (2 Corinthians 9:6-7). God wants me to remember my giving is a proof of my love for others (2 Corinthians 8:8) and of my faith in Him (2 Corinthians 9:8-10).

When the subject of giving is brought before me, I do not have to react as does much of the world. I do not have to become defensive and grudgingly give out of a sense of guilt. Instead, I can look at giving as an opportunity for me to examine my relationship with God. For example, I can examine my faith. Do I trust in God or do I trust in money (cf. Matthew 6:19-21). Furthermore, I can examine my gratitude towards God. Will I give cheerfully as an expression of how grateful I am to God for all that He has given to me and thus I want to give back to Him to support the work of the church and/or to help those in need? Finally, when giving, I can examine my love for God and my fellow man. James writes, “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?” (James 2:15-16). Will I just say I love my fellow man or will I show I love my fellow man? Today, I will strive to grow in the grace of giving!

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21).