Examine our motives when we give
Paul writes a succinct reminder to Jesus’s followers in Corinth. By extension it also applies to us. He says “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously,” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
Generosity produces blessing, whereas stinginess results in scarcity. In another letter Paul is more concise: we reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7).
So, we should give.
Why? Because the Bible says to.
How? Give with a willing spirit, not begrudgingly but happily (2 Corinthians 9:7).
What should we avoid? Giving to get. Giving to others in order to earn a return on our investment is not generosity but selfishness. Yes, I know people who have given from their poverty and God repaid them one hundredfold. But the hundredfold blessing seldom came quickly and often involved sacrifice along the way. When we give in order to get, we miss the point. God discerns our motives (Proverbs 16:2).
Blessed to be a blessing: God promised Father Abraham that he and his descendants would be blessed to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2). Or consider that “A generous man will prosper,” (Proverbs 11:25).
Full Circle: In the Old Testament God says he will bless us so we can bless others. In the New Testament he says when we bless others, he will bless us even more.
The point is, we need to give generously, but we best do so for the right reasons.
[Read through the New Testament of the Bible this year. Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 9, and today’s post is on 2 Corinthians 9:6.]
There is a curious phrase in the Bible: “grace of giving.” It occurs only in Paul’s second letter to his friends at the church in Corinth. Without it appearing elsewhere in the Bible, there are no other verses we can use to grasp a better understanding of this curious phrase.
In considering it, the “grace of giving” could imply we are to give graciously. The opposite is to give begrudgingly, and that’s not good. A gift given resentfully is hardly a gift at all. Gracious giving is the goal.
Alternately, “grace of giving” could suggest generosity. We give what others need and then give more. Or we give what we can and then make sacrifices to give more. We give “above and beyond” expectations. This, too, may be the grace of giving.
While there is value in both these considerations, I think there is an even better one. God gives his grace to us; we should give a bit of that grace to others. This could be money, or it could be kindness, tolerance, acceptance, or any number of the amazing gifts God has given us, his undeserving followers.
Regardless of how we understand the phrase “grace of giving” and what it precisely means, the key is to give. We are to give to others.
[2 Corinthians 8:7]
I’m weary hearing about the top 1%, the wealthiest people in the USA. While too much has already been said about this from a political, social, and philosophical standpoint, I see it as a spiritual issue.
For most of us in the US, the bottom 99%, we need to guard against a spirit of envy. In fact, we should be happy (the Bible would use the word “rejoice”) for just how much the top 1% has gained. Let’s not forget that we, too, have gained. But it is spirit of envy that objects to someone else who gains more than us.
For the top 1% in the USA, let me provide a spiritual reminder: you are blessed to be a blessing. That is, help others with your money. You don’t have to give it all away (but you could). And I’m not advocating socialism or higher taxes, but I am suggesting a spirit of generosity that continually seeks to do the most good with the money that God has allowed you to earn.
However, there is a bigger picture that we need to look at, a worldwide one. According to the website globalrichlist.com, if you make over $49,000 a year, than you are in the top 1% worldwide. You are blessed and need to be a blessing to others. Don’t be envious of the few who make more; be generous to the 99% who make less.
Did you know that about half the world lives on less than $4 a day — and that about a billion people live on less than $1 a day? Consider that next time you buy a gourmet coffee or rent a movie — your trivial expenditure equals the daily income of someone else.
Helping those in need is a spiritual issue, so is realizing that you are not part of the problem, but the solution.
How much money is enough when you give to charity?
When considering gifts to God, that is a difficult question to answer. This is because God’s economy functions differently than ours. This is aptly illustrated in the following story:
Jesus notices the rich people giving gifts to the temple treasury. Apparently, they would make a big show of this, to call attention to themselves and their “generosity.” (Think of dropping 100 pennies into the Salvation Army kettle at Christmas time, versus slipping in a dollar bill.)
After their loud and showy performance, a poor widow shuffles up and meekly drops in two pennies. We might wonder what two cents could do, but Jesus remarks that she was the most generous all, giving all that she had.
It seems that God is more concerned with our attitude about giving then he is with the amount that we give. That’s how things work in God’s economy.