God is concerned with our thinking and our living. God wants us to have an attitude of gratitude. Second Corinthians 8-9 is the most extensive section on giving in all of Scripture. Here, Paul lays down basic principles of New Testament generosity. You may be thinking, how does giving affect gratitude? Paul says, “You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us” (2 Cor. 9:11). There are nine different words used to refer to this offering they are taking up, but the one used the most was grace. We know we are growing in grace and gratitude when we give:
Speaking of the way the churches in Macedonia gave, Paul says, “…they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will” (2 Cor. 8:5). God does not need or want our money. He wants our life! God wants something FOR us not FROM us! When we give, we are not giving to a project, we are giving to a person. Jesus says, “Do it for me” (see Matt. 25:31-40).
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Jesus said, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mt. 6:21). He is not after your treasure. He is after your heart. He knows your money’s direction reveals your heart’s affection. Our world is caught up in the “consumption assumption.” We spend on newer, nicer upgrades and extra stuff, then we pay debt, then we save, and if we have anything left we give. That formula is ME, ME, ME, and then God or others. What is sacrificial living? It is living a self-less life instead of a selfish life. Jesus flipped that script. He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you” (Mt. 6:33). The things you worry about, God will take care of! We have to give, then save, then spend. Present yourself a living sacrifice which is pleasing to God. You give to what you love. You sacrifice for your children or for something you really want. Giving is a tangible way we express our love for Jesus. Why do we give? Because of all Jesus has given to us.
“Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). God loves cheerful giving, but He hates stinginess because God hates sin. How do we become cheerful givers? Practice makes perfect. Give not out of pressure but out of pleasure. There is no joy like doing something for others. Give not out of obligation but out of opportunity. It is not that you have to, but you get to. Giving is not a job it is a joy! When I think about how the Lord saved me, came to me when I could not come to Him, forgave all my sins, cast them as far as the east is from the west, turned my life around, gave me a reason and a purpose for living, placed my feet on the solid rock, gave me the promise of the resurrection and heaven, it makes me want to give! We give with the attitude, Thank you, Lord!
Those in Macedonia gave in spite of their circumstances (2 Cor. 8:1-4). They did not let their circumstances hinder them. They could have easily made excuses. You can make excuses, or you can make progress, but you can’t do both. In spite of Covid, inflation, gas prices, and more, we can give. In the economy of God, poverty and generosity co-exist. Severe trial and abundant joy co-exist. Man looks at how much we give. God looks at how much we have left over. They gave out of their extreme poverty. Generosity is not something that happens when you make it big. It is about being generous right now with what we have. These people begged to be a part of the offering. It was voluntary, spontaneous, not because they had to but because they wanted to participate! That is what the grace of God does in us. We are all born with a clinched fist. But the grace of God causes us to live with an open hand and open heart. “The point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Cor. 9:6). If you were God, would you give more to those who are generous or more to those who are stingy? You can’t reap what you do not sow. Generosity is not something we do, it is a way of life. The more we invest in God’s Kingdom the more fruit will abound. The greater the investment the greater the return. “And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).
What a promise! God is able when we are not able. “You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Cor. 9:11-12). How do we grow in thanksgiving? Never get used to your blessings or take them for granted. Remember the best blessings are spiritual and money cannot buy them. Share your blessings. What is the more for? God blesses us so that we may be a blessing to others. When we give to the Lord’s work, only God gets the glory!
- Adapted from If Money Talked by Andy Stanley