Summary: In this study we’re going to talk about the how of giving – what character should our giving take, and what are the results of our giving.
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The Indescribable Gift
Pastor Tom Fuller
Last week we looked at 2 Corinthians 8 and learned about why we should give. We learned that giving is a privilege, that it is to the Lord that we give, and that it is part of the maturing process as a Christian, that although there is no command to give, it should come as a result of our love for God.
This week we’re going to talk about the how of giving – what character should our giving take, and what are the results of our giving?
Paul starts by telling the Corinthians that he shouldn’t really even have to write them about the gift they were preparing, but somehow got neglected. And it’s true – giving should be a natural part of the redeemed soul – but as Peter said:
2 Peter 1:12-13 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body,
9:1 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. 2 For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.
At the beginning of chapter 8 Paul goes on and on about how generous the Macedonians have been – now he turns the tables and turns it up a notch – saying “I’ve already told them how generous you are” and that got them to give.
Do you get the feeling that Paul wants this gift to happen or what? It’s an interesting fund raising technique. I find it refreshing, however, that Paul is not raising money for a new building, or a new ministry – he is raising money to go directly to help feel hungry and impoverished Christians in Jerusalem.
But Paul doesn’t let words alone work – there has to be action accompanying those words – so he says “I’m going to let you put your money where your mouth is:”
3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we-not to say anything about you-would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
“I don’t want to pry it out of your hands” in other words. The two interesting words here are “generous” and “grudgingly.” Grudgingly in the King James is “covetousness”. The idea is to desire something that is another’s – or to hold on to something.
The Revised Standard translates the word “extortion.” The idea here is to not pay your debts. Paul may have been concerned that the Corinthians were big on words – but short on action when it came to follow through on their gift.
This is important for us as well. Do you follow through on your promises? Are you a man or woman of your word? Or do you make promises to do certain things so you can look good, but then back out when it comes time to deliver?
I’m not just talking about money here either – did you promise to pray for someone and then just forget? Did you say you would help someone and then just conveniently not show up or say “well, I guess the Lord didn’t want me to do it after all.” The principal at work here is: if you say you are going to do something, follow through – because the Lord is watching, and counting. Look at the next verse:
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
The principal of sowing and reaping is all over the Bible. Just talking about doing things for the Lord doesn’t get you a harvest – but if you generously sow your life into the lives of others, God will reward you generously. What kind of reward? That’s where many Christians have gotten themselves into trouble. We’ll get more into that in a moment.
So now you’re thinking – “Oh man, now look at all the stuff I’ve got to do – I promised all these things, man am I under the pile!” The word is: don’t promise anything you are not willing to do with a cheerful heart.