We are talking about giving today. What comes to mind when your hear a church talking about giving? “Oh no!” “Here we go again.” “I’m glad I didn’t bring anyone with me today?” Is it the feeling that you are about to get manipulated? Is it excitement for giving for opportunity in missions? All of these and much more can be the response.
When it comes to giving we do not want to shy away from talking about it in the church. I do not want to shy away from the fact that many messages on giving are done to quench the appetite of leaders who are more excited to build their own kingdom rather than the kingdom of God.
We are studying a passage where the apostle Paul discusses giving. Paul does not shy away from teaching on the need to give. He doesn't shy away from presenting his needs. But Paul also doesn’t manipulate, coerce, or plea. He does not primarily highlighting the needs of people nor the obligation of others to give, he highlights the lavish generosity of God. God’s generosity motivates giving towards God’s ministry.
Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated--to say nothing of you--for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction. 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. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (2 Corinthians 9:1-15 ESV)
Here Paul is talking about a gift being taken for people in need. He is making preparations for its collection (2Co 9:5 ESV). He lays out a number of principles that are to guide Christian giving.
Two points about giving.
Their gift is to have a godward focus to it. In 2 cor 8:5 he talks about this gift and says, “they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” Their giving was directed first to the Lord, then to people. Throughout the Bible people give in response to who God is and what he has done. Giving flows out of knowing who God is and what he has done.
Giving to the Lord runs through the whole Bible. In Genesis 4 Cain and Abel make offerings. Interestingly enough one offering is accepted by God and the other is not. Both offerings could have been accepted but God looks at the heart, and one offering was made through of motives something other than of love and gratitude to God.
in Genesis 14:18 “Abraham gave to Melchizedek king of Salem and priest of God Most High” because Melchizedek blessed him. David sought to build an altar for god to offer sacrifices, and when a king offered to give him the land for the altar he refused the gift, saying “I will not offer burnt offerings to the LORD my God that cost me nothing." So David bought the threshing floor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. (2Sa 24:24 ESV). David felt he was cheating God if he didn’t give him something that cost him. Giving reflects devotion to God. It involves sacrifice. God wants our very best and he wants it from the heart. LIke telling my wife, i got you these wonderful flowers. She says how wonderful they are. And I say, “yeah, they were free.” The ease of access cheapens the gift.
In the NT when people encounter Jesus and the gift of life he offers huge response were elicited . Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, "Behold, Lord, half of my goods I give to the poor. And if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I restore it fourfold." (Luk 19:8 ESV).
All of these show a continuous pattern of giving out of gratitude for what God has done. Giving is an expression of our worship and devotion to God. Its behind what the Corinthians do.
Some of these examples may make giving seem to be purely spontaneous, but giving is also a consistent discipline. v7 says “give what as he has made up his mind.” It means choosing ahead of time. It is a deliberate choice thought about in advance. It means the values and importance of the mission inform what we do all the time.
We give regularly. This is seen in 1 Cor 16:1-2 “Now about the collection for God's people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.” This follows the pattern of the OT where people presented offerings in the temple and those offerings sustained the ministry there.
Tithing. Throughout the Bible there are mentions of offerings and sacrifices and one of the main ways is through tithing. Giving a tenth of what you have to the Lord. Leviticus 27:30 "Every tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land or of the fruit of the trees, is the LORD's; it is holy to the LORD.”
This is what we are supposed to do. But as one commentator said, “The flesh is always ingenious in finding subterfuges.” In verse 4 Paul is encouraging them to be prepared and follow through on their plans to give. The ease of talking ourselves out of obedience. V8.11, they willed but had not done.
I m always amazed at statistics on how many Christians do not give or tithe. In America Christians give about 2.5 % of their income. We do not have a giving problem, we have a discipleship problem. If Jesus doesn’t rule your bank account he doesn’t rule.
Godward giving is about having a godward disposition in all you do. What God has done for you should rearrange your life. Jesus talked a lot about money, more than any other topic. offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. I think the reason for that is it gets to our heart. We purchase things in the world through money, and if the world is our treasure then money is the means to it. Many people boast of Christ being their all in all, but they are not willing to follow him in his commands of giving. People don’t give anything to the Lord but they are willing to spend hundreds of dollars on their hair, or golfing.
I have seen the discipline of tithing force people to consider what is most important in their lives. Life is upside down, and it’s when they start considering what God says is most important then they start to get a right balance in place. If you are not tithing start taking steps to get there. If you are not giving anything start somewhere. Take a step in it.
Also, Godward giving means we are never done being stretched. It’s not about just tithing, giving 10%. Zacchaeus gave half his possessions! Giving is about honoring the Lord in all we do and all we have. Generosity is dependent on the attitude of the heart, not what you give. Some may give billions and be stingy. Some may give little and like the poor widow be a hero of the faith.
Godward giving is done freely. 2 Corinthians 9:7 say to give, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2Co 9:7 ESV). V 8. Paul did not at all intend to compel them, as if he were requiring them to give. Giving is ultimately between you and God. If you are unsure of where you are at or what you should do then get advice. But the goal is not for someone to twist your arm to give. It is for you to follow God in obedience.
We give generously. This requires faith. whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (2Co 9:6 ESV). Sparingly could be tight fisted. Unwilling to part with what you have. We don’t let go of things we love. If we love money we want to hold on to it. Like throwing stuff in a garage sale pile but those things get sticky and don’t want to leave your hand.
But also notice the imagery here. In giving you are not losing. He uses a metaphor of sowing seed. To acquire a harvest you have to let go of seed. In other words what you want to gain you have to let it go. If you are tight fisted that is what you will reap. When you give you are not losing, you are sowing to the kingdom.
When we do not give it is out of self preservation. We must realize that our greatest need is God himself. And we gain that by giving. It doesn't mean we prosper in this life. That harvest is most likely in the life to come. I think there are benefits now, but I can't quantify that.
We want to be generous toward the mission of God. Generous to people in need. I talked to a guy last week who sold his dream house to get a smaller one so that they could give more to God’s mission. That is how the kingdom changes things. It smacks American culture in the face. I want us to be a church all in for the kingdom, and if we have that I could care less how much we raise.
This Godward giving is also rooted in trust in God’s gracious sufficiency. The Lord is all sufficient.
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” (2Co 9:8 ESV).
Look how many times all is used. Paul gives English teachers fits. Four times in one sentence. all grace… all sufficiency... in all things... at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2Co 9:8 ESV)God provides. He provided for his people in the desert. Their shoes never wore out and food was on the ground. He will do the same for you. Ill: Van. Trust in him.
His indescribable gift. what cannot be told because it is too wonderful for words indescribable, inexpressible. It is not plural. It is singular. A one time gift that is indescribable. It is Jesus and his sacrifice for sins. It his life that brought us life. That is what motivates giving. If you are reluctant to give, take more time to consider who jesus Christ is what he has given to you.
Giving honors God, and is directed primarily to God, but as God also calls us to love others there is an appropriate sense to recognize that giving helps others. Paul is collecting so ministry can go forward. He is helping people on the other side of the world, and he is jealous that the Corinthians take part in it.
Giving makes a difference in other people. Paul’s desires equality among people. Some have an abundance and others a lack. And the church has an opportunity to make a difference. Their giving distributes evenly. We, like the Corinthians, are in an affluent part of the world. People here don’t have the challenges of poverty but the challenge of plenty. Our church is giving to those in other parts of the world to help their physical and spiritual needs. We will continue doing that and hopefully more of it.
In laying out our resources we are the dispensers of his grace. That is amazing. People will give thanks to God for what we have done.
Giving Makes a Difference (In us). Paul mentions the blessed man who gives freely. It can seem as though this man gives to get. But that is not what Paul means by it. In Psalm 1 the blessed man’s leaf does not wither; he bears fruit even in hard times. Same is true of Psalm 112. Even in darkness light dawns for the righteous man. He is blessed because he knows the Lord. He is set free to worship God and not things. That keeps him from being a stagnant stream that holds onto its water, does not release it and become stagnant and dead. Giving makes god’s blessings flow.
I was reading about giving, and how studies have found giving makes people happier. I think that what God calls us to do is what we were created to do. And we experience frustration and disappointment when we hoard. We are meant to give not hoard.
When it comes to money and possessions you have to ask who owns who? Look what author Randy Alcorn says about giving,
“Giving is a joyful surrender to a greater person and greater agenda. Giving affirms Christ’s Lordship. It dethrones me and exalts him. It breaks the chains of mammon that would enslave me… It doesn't strip me of vested interest; rather it shifts my vested interests from earth to heaven, from self to God. Only giving breaks affluenza fever. Only giving defies the spirit of entitlement. Only giving breaks me free from the gravitational hold of money and possessions. Giving shifts me to a new center of gravity-- heaven.
Randy Alcorn, Treasure principle, 57.
Your giving glorifies God (9.11). It results in thanks to him. When someone in need received help they thank God. That is what your giving does. Consider your giving to push the church forward. When a child stands up to be baptized and professes faith, that has happened because a whole church body is working together, curriculum has been bought and paid and taught. Your investment in soccer programs has blessed people. Your giving to this facility has made a difference. It has in the past and it will in the future.
This is why giving to church is so important: Remember who it is he is writing to. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth about giving to others in need. He goes to the church for help. There is an important place for the church. The church is God’s plan A for taking the gospel to the world.
As a church we want to be about the preaching of the gospel and the equipping of saints for ministry. I believe when you get that you get people doing other tasks like missions organizations, schools, mercy ministry outreach. That is what we are trying to build. That is what we are trying to do. Build an organization that is equipping its members to make a difference in the lives of others. To send people out. To send gifts to the poor and need. To take the gospel to those in need.
I do want to talk about Bridgeway for a moment. In this passage Paul does a great balancing of presenting a need but not imploring, demanding, manipulating or any of those other things.
The philosopher Cicero said, “ the main thing in all public administration and service is to avoid even the slightest suspicion of avarice.” Off 2:21:75. It’s even more important in ministry. I want to walk that line of talking about our needs as a church but not getting weird or awkward about it. I want to build a faithful church. I don’t care about anything else other than that. For that to happen, I need to teach the Bible and trust the Spirit to work in hearts.
We are in a good financial position because of outside giving/income. This is helping us take significant strides in jumpstarting the replant.
Our monthly giving is hard to figure out a trajectory right now. That’s understandable. People left over the last year. I imagine some pulled back from giving, and maybe even wonder if it matters or if it is going to something productive. I want to encourage you to be faithful to the Lord. when we give we give out of faithfulness to God. We should all feel that burden. We don’t give because the church earned your trust. But as we lead the church we do feel the burden and responsibility to have your trust, to have your confidence that good things are happening. We have a number of challenges to work through but I hope you are starting to see things happen that you want to be a part of. We could use some help now.
We do have needs to push forward. We are trying to be aggressive in building for where we want to go and not just where we are. We are leaning into things. We are having some extra expenses and costs increase. We also have a number of things that we would like to get to that we just have not been able to do. I would love to send missionaries out to reach this area. We are going to trust God. We could use help here. If you are not giving we could use you.
Many people do not give to their church because they do not think the church is really in need. I talked to a guy raising support and he mentioned receiving a hefty donation from a supporter who wrote him into his will. He said he asked the guy about it one day, and the guy said, “Well, I was going to give to my church but they never asked me, so I didn’t think they needed me.” We need it! Bridgeway needs it! There are things we would love to do. We want to grow so we are pushing in the direction we want to go. We are trusting the Lord.
Bottom line, is let’s be faithful as a church. We have some challenges. We have some things that we will need to trust the Lord for. God gives us wisdom to walk through things, if we don’t have money to do certain things then we will adjust. He will provide. I want to trust God for that. At the same time I want to encourage you that if you are not giving, then give. God calls you to that. If you are giving, maybe God is calling you to give more to the rebuilding.
Let’s be a generous people. Generous for the mission. Giving to the church, giving to those in need, giving to those near us. Giving money, time, attention, hospitality. Comedy moving, where people find a suitcase full of money and they are walking around giving it away. When you have been blessed you want to give it away.
God has given us an indescribable gift! You can be in utter poverty and be rich. We should overflow with gratefulness and generosity.
Discussion Questions for 2 Corinthians 9:1-15