Summary: What motivates you to give? The Corinthians had an easy time setting unrealistic giving goals that set them up for failure, but a hard time giving in a way that released the gift to God and brought Him glory. In this chapter Paul gives us some valuable le
Giving is one of those subjects that pastors either ignore or really focus on. For us at Calvary Chapel, we teach through the Scriptures so when a chapter comes along on any particular subject then we teach it. Giving should be a part of every growing Christian’s experience, and I’m not talking about just monetary giving. Giving of your time and your talents to the body of Christ is just as important.
The situation Paul addresses in chapters 8 and 9 involve a collection for impoverished Christians in Jerusalem. Paul encouraged the Corinthians to set aside money each week (1 Corinthians 16:1-4 ). But over time they had stopped. In a sense, lesson one is to give regularly. If you don’t exercise a muscle it will atrophy over time; so too with giving. Paul writes to the Corinthians that when he comes, he would like the gift they promised to be ready. Paul’s got bigger fish to fry with this church and doesn’t want this to be an issue.
God gives the motivation and ability to give (vs 1)
The default human position is to hoard money through to the end of self-sufficiency. As we realize that we get everything we need from God, we loosen our hands on the money we have.
Paul uses the northern Greek province of Macedonia to spur the rival southern region Achaia into action. Isn’t it cool when we can compete over who gives the most?
Paul had a difficult time in this region, though God had called him here. Even after he left the persecutions continued. Despite this, the believers in places like Thessalonica thrived, and the outgrowth of that surfaced in joy and giving, even though they were in poverty. Remember with God it doesn’t matter how much you give, it matters how giving you are.
The word: generosity can also mean: sincerity, simplicity, and singleness. I love those words as a guide for how to give. Give out of a desire to help—because you want to, not because you have to. Forced giving is not giving, it’s extortion. Give singly—in other words, have a purpose in mind with your gift, even if you don’t control exactly how it is used—pray that God will use it to further His kingdom. And give simply. We don’t have to make a big deal out it nor does the gift need to be elaborate. Giving of time, talents, monetary blessings—all count richly in whatever context—whether it is as big as providing a new building for a church or as “small” as cleaning up the grounds or visiting someone who is ill, or putting what others may consider a meager offering into the basket on Sunday.
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Paul says the Macedonians were so eager to help out the Christians in Jerusalem that they figured up what they could give then tried to go beyond that. They counted it a privilege and a service to take part in this joyful gift. It really is a joy to give. I think of our own church and the money given to help feed the starving in Africa—both with food and with Bibles. When we see the pictures of those people who received the gifts it is so wonderful and it puts such joy in our hearts.
This is always how it should be. You give yourself to God and your gift to God, and then you give it to the ministry. This has two purposes. First, we are simply stewards of what God has put us in charge of. We own nothing. So all that you are and all that you have should be given back to Him to do with however He wills. Secondly, when you give, you release that gift to God first, and then to that ministry. Putting strings on gifts is not giving, it is marionetting!
Paul had sent Titus to administer the finishing up of this gift. Paul doesn’t want to get personally involved so the accusations that he is shaking down the Corinthians for his own purposes will be proven false. I must say that I admire this. Paul wants to avoid all appearances of evil. It is actually an affront to suggest the Apostle, who would take nothing from them even for his own support, would somehow rip this gift off. But that being said—integrity in running a ministry is important.
Giving is a part of growing as a Christian. If you find yourself not giving (and I mean in all ways, not just in offerings to the church) you might want to think about what is going on in your maturing process. Is there some worship of material things holding you hostage or are you having problems really trusting in God to provide your security?