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2 Corinthians 9:11-12
11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
Are you are regular giver to your local church or other Christians? I have been in many churches where a variety of techniques have been used to “encourage” the congregation to give. I have listened to impassioned pleas about tithing and being responsible with God’s resources. I have heard prosperity teachings that encourage Christians to give so that they will receive more in return. I have heard Christians taught to store up treasure in heaven, and I have heard the verses from Malachi that challenge Christians not to “rob” God. While I understand where all these pleas and techniques are coming from, I think they miss the mark somewhat. All of these efforts challenge the Christian to give with the focus being on how the giving effects themselves. To me this is very counter Gospel. I don’t understand how in this area we transition the message that the Christian life is about laying our lives down for the many like Jesus did into a message that says the Christian life is about making sure that we are being individually rewarded for our giving? It seems inconsistent to me. So why should we give? I think today’s verses from the Apostle Paul’s second letter to the church in Corinth help us.
Looking at verse 11 Paul begins by telling us that we will be blessed individually by God. Notice he doesn’t say that we will be blessed individually so that we can accumulate a lot of nice stuff that we can pile into our nice cars and store in our big nice houses, but Paul says that we will be blessed individually so that we can be generous in every way. Paul goes on to tell us that by our being generous thanksgiving to God will be produced.
Moving to verse 12 Paul describes what is really happening when we give. He is saying that when we give we are not only supplying the physical needs of the one who we are giving to but we are also providing a way for the receiver to be thankful to God.
So what’s the application. I think for me these verses remind me that the Cross/the Gospel has to be the basis for all of our Christian thinking. When we try to answer the “how should we live questions”, of which “why we should give” is one, we have to look to Jesus for guidance. The life of our Lord was submissive and sacrificial. On the Cross he submitted His will to the Father’s and gave up His life as payment for countless others. So should it be with us. When we give we should be mindful not so much about what our sacrifice of resources means to us but what our sacrifice of resources means to others. Are the gifts that we are giving causing the receiver to raise their eyes to the Father with thanksgiving? Are we building each others faith in God by our generosity? I think if we can’t yes to these questions then our giving is in vain. I think if we give just to make sure we will be blessed will always miss the mark. The true challenge and the answer to why we should give is to edify and encourage each other so that God may be gloried.
My final question is for those who refuse to give for any reason? How are our brothers and sisters in Christ being edified and encouraged when they struggle in lack while we pile up more stuff and toys for our own consumption?
Father, thank you that in all your work you will be glorified. Thank you God that you so richly pour your blessings on us. Help remind us today that you bless us not so that we can be comfortable in abundance, but rather you bless us so that we can be generous and produce in others thanksgiving for you. Let us be like Jesus. We pray in His name. Amen.