Monday, October 14, 2013

Giving Cheerfully...

I just thought I would share a couple of thoughts about giving...

One of the things that amazes me is how simple the Apostle Paul reflected on giving, and how complicated we tend to make it. He shares some excellent principles in two chapters (eight and nine) in his second letter to the Corinthians as he speaks to the believers there about helping out others who are suffering in Judea.

"I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." 2 Corinthians 8:8-9

Notice the first thing Paul says is that he makes it clear he is not commanding the Corinthians to give, but he then gives an example of the generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We might not think about Jesus being rich because we have this image of a poor itinerant preacher, but think about a couple of things with me: God is incredibly wealthy - beyond belief!

He has streets with pure gold and gates made from pearls. His pattern for the tabernacle was to use implements of gold; the Arkof the Covenant was covered in gold!

Heaven and earth belong to God.

Jesus left all the wealth of heaven to walk this earth. And yet, in His earthly ministry, he still had enough resources that he needed a treasurer! He even gave the job to someone he trusted, Judas (who proved himself a thief and a betrayer).

You may not realize it, but Jesus also had financial supporters who helped Him and his entourage. Can you imagine traveling with at least twelve hungry dudes - not to mention the women that followed Him. They had to be fed and taken care of. Where did they stay in the wintertime? Even Israel gets snow.

To say the least, I think it is a stretch to imagine Him constantly multiplying bread and fish, or having Pete and the boys catch fish with gold coins in their mouths to pay for their needs. But I digress...

Paul continues talking about giving in chapter nine:

"Remember this: The farmer who plants a few seeds will have a very small harvest. But the farmer who plants because he has received God’s blessings will receive a harvest of God’s blessings in return. Each of you should give whatever you have decided. You shouldn’t be sorry that you gave or feel forced to give, since God loves a cheerful giver. Besides, God will give you his constantly overflowing kindness. Then, when you always have everything you need, you can do more and more good things. Scripture says, “The righteous person gives freely to the poor. His righteousness continues forever.” God gives seed to the farmer and food to those who need to eat. God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval. God will make you rich enough so that you can always be generous. Your generosity will produce thanksgiving to God because of us." 2 Corinthians 9:6-11 God's Word Translation

I love how Paul brings it all together with these verses. We are to sow and give as we decide in our hearts to give. That is what grace teaches.

You "shouldn’t be sorry that you gave or feel forced to give," or feel that if you don't give God won't bless you. 
God has already blessed you!

He has given you all things that pertain to life and godliness. How - through your giving? Not through your giving, but through the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ! (2 Peter 1:3). We are blessed because of what Jesus gave at the cross, not because we gave in the plate.

We should give, just not grudgingly or feeling like we were compelled - but we should give with cheerful hearts! Why? Because by giving, we are declaring that we trust God with our lives, and besides, He loves a cheerful giver. It all belongs to Him anyway.

I love that grace is involved with giving. Grace is so involved that "God will give you his constantly overflowing kindness.[Grace] Then, when you always have everything you need, you can do more and more good things."

God even gives us the seed to sow. He gives us the seed, He gives us the harvest. His desire is "make you rich enough so that you can always be generous." That is what I call prosperity with a purpose.

That is why we can give cheerfully!

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