CONFIDENT IN GOD: The Basis of Real Ministry
Decide to be Generous
2 Corinthians 8:1-12
Jerry A Collins
v Is giving an evidence of maturity?
v How much and how often should we give?
v Does biblical giving mean giving sacrificially?
The longer I walk with the Lord in the study of His Scripture the more I am convinced that He longs for His people to be magnanimous givers. There are a number of ways to consider the depth of ones walk with the Lord but the one who becomes a giver is the one constant, biblical expression of devotion, commitment, service to Jesus Christ. To love is to give—for God so loved the world that He gave. Loving means giving and giving means expecting nothing in return. If there is one word that is a synonym for s fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ, it is GIVER. And the single greatest challenge the spiritual life puts to us is to learn how to give. So we are encouraged to become givers. That encouragement comes from arrangements being made for the Corinthian believers to give. In order to do this he uses the example of the churches—groups of believers—in the region of Macedonia to stimulate their giving vs 1. They are held up as a model for giving like the Philippians in 4:15-18. As we track thru the passage we will notice a number of insights about giving that is generous and godly.
GIVING IS TO BE DONE FOR OTHERS 1
Let’s begin with the obvious and underscore that giving is not the same as receiving. Giving is something I do for someone else without regard to myself. The force of the example is that the Macedonian believers scattered throughout the region were giving to others. The giving was not collective spending where they pooled resources together for their own benefit. This giving was meeting needs that would never personally benefit themselves. It is characterized as the ‘grace of God’ meaning giving us something we did not deserve. No regard for self but for the other. So this is the basis—the starting point—the foundation for biblical giving.
YOU DO NOT HAVE TO HAVE A LOT TO GIVE 2
Here in this verse is a paradox—deep poverty in contrast to overflowing wealth, a generous spirit. The giving is not measured by the amount given but by the sacrifice of the gift. You can still be generous with the little you have to give. In vs 3 their giving was not out of their excess but out of their limited resources. You do not start giving when you have something to give but you give with what you have to give. Giving is something God allows us to do by His grace. God does not need our money and poverty should not prevent us form being givers. Giving can go beyond our calculated ability of what we can afford to give.
GIVING IS VOLUNTARY EXPRESSION OF SUPPORT 4
Giving should be something we givers beg to do not something receivers beg us to do. They gave of their own accord and Paul did not have to request their giving. It was their idea to give! Here the ‘support’ was for ministry and service among the poorer saints according to Rom 15:25-27 in Jerusalem. It was these Jerusalem believers who had sent out and commissioned the missionaries who brot the gospel to the Corinthians. In this sense they participated in the work. Notice it was not those in need who were begging—the Jerusalem believers—but givers begging to participate. If someone helps you spiritually, you have a debt to him or her, to help him or her in some way. If you are aware of the need to give then give. Don’t wait for someone to tell you to do it. But expand this giving to include hosting, projects, encouragement, as well as money.
GIVING IS AN OUTGROWTH OF MATURITY IN CHRIST 5
Giving is not some isolated act that we do but is generated from a heart of devotion to Christ. Note the order: First they gave themselves to God then they gave their money. Paul must have expected some sort of contribution but that hope was far surpassed by their attitude in giving. To us by the will of God shows their support of Paul’s apostolic mission. So our giving does not begin with our money—how much I have, what should I do—but it begins with giving ourselves to God. A mature giver sees everything he has as belonging to God. Biblically, all of my money belongs to God and I am just a steward of whatever amount it is He gives to me. You cannot outgive God. We are meant to be like rivers not reservoirs with our wealth. We give, God gives. We start gathering and collecting the money God gives us, God gives to someone else who will distribute His wealth. God is always more generous than we are and maturity will understand that.
GIVING IS SOMETHING WE SHOULD ENCOURAGE 6-7
Paul wants Titus to collect money from the Corinthians also. Here is a call to action of giving—see that you abound in this gracious work also—said twice. Giving is an expression of being a believer. Just as you are to pursue faith, love, knowledge, you should also pursue being a giver. Giving is as much a spiritual exercise as faith, love, and the use of our spiritual gifts. As a believer, you should be growing in faith, in knowledge and in love. But you should also be growing in giving. Give some thot, prayer, and Bible study to giving.
GIVING MEASURES THE SINCERITY OF YOUR LOVE 8
Although the apostle had the authority to command them to give, he appealed to them instead thru the example of the earnestness of the Macedonians giving. They, too, can demonstrate their sincere love by giving. So love is not abstract. It is to be shown in your actions, especially of giving. What you give is what you decide to give. To not give is not optional even though what you give is optional. Love is expressed by means of giving. You give. You love. You do not give, then you do not love. You withhold, you hoard, you protect, you spend, then where is the measure of your love for God, for believers? It is only in giving that the sincerity of your love can be seen.
GIVING IS WHEN YOU BECOME POORER THAN YOU ARE 9-10
Your giving means you have less than you did so someone else may become richer than they are thru your poverty. Jesus became poor by choosing to accept our earthly life, which is ‘poor’ compared to the riches of heaven. Jesus was our example, so we will part with our earthly goods for the benefit of others in the kingdom. Jesus did that by also giving at Calvary so we would benefit both here and in heaven. To follow this example, he says, vs 10, is for our spiritual advantage. Jesus sets the tone for us in the management of our money for giving. He raised the bar very high here and expects us to reach up to it with whatever money we have. He took a hit. Tithing is not a biblical NT concept of giving because it is discriminatory. Tithing for you may mean something entirely different for me. The 90% left for you entirely different than 90% left for me. It is not ‘I give 10% to God so the rest is mine’ but is my giving making me poorer than I was?
GIVING IS DOING IT NOT PROMISING IT 11
They desired to do it, now it was time to actually do it. Desiring to give is good, but you need to actually go through with it and give! To the completion of your ability. You cannot give what you do not have but you can give according to your ability to give. Don’t wait around until you can give. Give with what you already have with whatever God has given to you. Your ability to give will never run out as long as you give. Quit making promises to give and start doing your giving. Don’t hold back. Do it.