Posted by: rcottrill | November 29, 2009

Principles of Giving

Consider II Cor. 9:6-15, one of the New Testament’s key passages on the theme of Christian giving.

6  But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7  So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.
8  And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work.
9  As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.”
10  Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness,
11  while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
12  For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God,
13  while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men,
14  and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you.
15  Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

Paul is in the process of collecting money to aid the poor believers in Jerusalem (8:4; cf. Gal. 2:9-10). The Corinthian Christians wanted to do their part (II Cor. 9:1-2). And in the apostle’s instruction to them there are many important principles presented, relating to Christian giving in the Church Age.

1) In vs. 6 there is the law of the harvest, that reaping is proportionate to sowing.

2) The motive of the giver is not to be legal obligation or forced necessity, but a personal decision reflecting the joy of the Lord in the heart (vs. 7)

At one point a famous woman preacher became dissatisfied with the size of the offerings being received at her meetings. There were too many coins on the offering plates to suit her. To prevent this, she had cards placed in the pew racks to which givers were instructed to pin their offerings! It is unfortunate that by this kind of manipulation she may have missed the blessing of the widow’s mite (Lk. 21:1-4).

3) The power to give comes from God Himself. “God is able” (vs. 8) suggests the potential is there to receive all that faith will trust Him for.  And He is involved in our giving, both in providing the means for us to give, and then multiplying the effectiveness of the gift.

4) On receiving the gifts of obedient Christians, the receivers will be prompted to express gratitude to God (vs. 11-13). Like the cycles in nature (cf. Ecc. 1:7), what God gives us returns to Him with praise and thanksgiving (vs. 11, 12).

5) The receivers will be encouraged to pray for the givers (vs. 14). Their focus will not be simply on the money, though surely it will be welcomed, but on their kind and generous brothers and sisters in Christ.

6) Generous giving causes us to reflect on the greatest gift of all, God’s Son who came to be our Saviour (vs. 15; cf. Jn. 3:16). It is a basic principle: Greater than the gift of material things is the gift of one’s self.

7) We can never out-give God. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” And what is this indescribable gift? It certainly involves all the “riches of grace” (cf. 8:9; Eph. 2:7-9; Rom. 6:23), in other words, all that is involved in our eternal salvation. However, since “he who has the Son has life” (I Jn. 5:12), it would not be wrong to see God’s gift as personified in Christ (cf. Rom. 8:32).

In the words of the hymn by William Walsham How:

We give Thee but Thine own,
Whate’er the gift may be:
All that we have is Thine alone,
A trust, O Lord, from Thee.

And we believe Thy Word,
Though dim our faith may be:
Whate’er for Thine we do, O Lord,
We do it unto Thee.


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