Main Bible Passage: 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, 9:6-10
One saying of Jesus that is not recorded in any of the gospels but that is quoted in the book of Acts is that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). This runs contrary to the natural instinct that we have to prioritise getting over giving, but it is true. A healthy financial life is a generous one, and when generosity flows then blessing abounds for both the one receiving the gift and the one giving it.
Three factors that might make people struggle to give:
- Feeling we don’t have enough to spare
- Have seen the call to give abused
- Scarcity mindset caused by lack of trust in God for provision
In chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians, Paul appeals to the Corinthians to show generosity in their giving. The context is an appeal for the poor in Jerusalem, who Paul was urged to remember when he visited Jerusalem (see Gal. 2:10). Paul had found the Macedonian Christians to be very generous even though they were poor themselves, and he urged the Corinthians to do likewise.
Five principles about giving from these verses:
- Give what you have, not what you don’t (2 Cor 8:1-3) – The Macedonians did not have much, but their inability to give huge sums did not stop them giving generously. Their giving was based on what they have as they gave according to their means, and even stretched themselves a little bit to give more than they could comfortably afford.
- We give because God has given to us first (2 Cor 8:9) – The grace that God has already shown in Christ is the basis for our giving. He was rich but became poor for our sake. Our giving is not an attempt to earn God’s favour but is in response to the great generosity that he has show to us.
- Giving makes good things happen (2 Cor 9:6) – The more is sown in giving, the more is reaped in kingdom impact. Sometimes people abuse verses like this to suggest that the ‘reaping’ comes in terms of increased wealth, but this is taking it out of context. It is simply saying that the more we give, the more good things can be accomplished as a result of that giving.
- Giving starts with the heart (2 Cor 9:7) – Giving should not be done under compulsion, but it comes from a heart decision. A cheerful gift is much better than a dutiful one.
- Giving flows from faith (2 Cor 9:8-10) – Giving comes from trust in God as the provider. As we understand that he is generous it frees us up to be less tight-fisted in our finances but rather to give with open-handed generosity.
For many people, giving is a journey, and the application of the preach might be to encourage people to take the next step on that journey:
- Non-Giver – The person has never given.
- First Time Giver – The person has given a one off gift, either to regular giving or to a special offering.
- Regular Giver – The person has committed to giving a regular gift.
- Proportional Giver – The person is giving 10% of their income. Whilst the Old Testament idea of the tithe is not binding on new covenant believers, it should be seen as a floor for generosity rather than a ceiling.
- Extravagant Giver – The person gives above and beyond the 10% and is looking to continue increasing their giving.