Study to Grow
By Doug Bell
2 Corinthians 9:
6 ¶ "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
Giving is always a very difficult discussion among Christians for a multitude of reasons. Is tithing an Old Testament principle or does it apply to us today? Is giving taught as legalism or as part of our liberty? Was OT Giving just for Israel because they were a theocracy? Does the NT even give any guidance on the subject? etc.
Let's first understand that when we talk about our "giving," we are talking about 'more' than just our money. We owe God everything! We have a debt that we can never repay. 1 Corinthians 6:20 "for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body." And, Romans 6:22 "But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God," Also, Romans 12:1 "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship." And so these verses teach us that everything we are and everything we have belong to God. So we can never be more than stewards with what the Lord has entrusted us.
This subject actually began in our last chapter, 8. There we see Paul begin by telling the Corinthians about others Christians who were also giving to help their Jewish breathen in Judea. Evidently the Corinthian's had not begun their collection as of the time Paul was writing this letter. So he tells them of the Macedonians;
2 "for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord,
4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—
5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us."
Here a people group were living in great poverty because they were being persecuted for their faith. But in spite of their misfortunes, they were joyous because of the Gospel. And since this Good News had come to them from the Jews, they wanted to do all they could to help. The Apostle tells us, they didn't give as they had expected, ie., a minimal amount because of their extreme poverty But, they gave more than expected 'beyond their means.' begging Paul for the 'favor' to let them give even more! And when they had no more to give, they gave themselves to the Lord and to the Apostles. Like the woman who gave her half penny and Jesus said gave 'more than all the rest,' the Macedonians had given all they had. What can only be described as Sacrifical Giving!
What are some basic principles that we can glean about giving from these two chapters?
We see first the wonderful 'example' of Jesus's gift to us! 8:9 "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich."
Next, we note how God cares more about our 'motives' for giving, than He does about the amount. 8:12 "For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have."
Our opening verse, 9:6 "The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifullyfn will also reap bountifully." Reminding us of Jesus' words in Luke 6:38 "give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”
Then, we are to give of our own free will, so we will have no regrets and feel good about our giving. 9:7 "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."
A final reminder that we can never out give God! 9:15 "Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!"
If we take these principles into account, asking the Holy Spirit what He would want us to give. Letting Him impress His amount upon our hearts. Instead of giving mindlessly an arbitrary percentage or an amount, I believe we AND God would be more happy!
9:7 "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."