There are two subjects that people do not want preachers to address … sin and money. However, sin is our greatest problem and the very reason Jesus came to die on the cross. And money reflects our priorities. Jesus actually addressed the subject of money more than the subjects of heaven and hell. It was not that Jesus had a hang up with money, but He knew that we would. He knew that we would tend to get our priorities out of order. The only way to talk about money biblically is to talk about money in relationship to God and His purposes in the gospel.
The manner of our giving reflects the character of our heart. Generosity in our giving is a spiritual issue not an economic issue. Being a generous giver is about the worldwide propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The clinched fist is the international sign of anger. Our culture has bought into the fallacy that in order to have more we must hold on more tightly to what we have. Holding on more tightly does not lead to more blessing only to paranoia. When we become consumed with consuming then we tend to become overwhelmed with the fear of losing what we have. Jesus said, “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39).
Americans give more to charitable organizations than any other nation. American Christians are to core reason why America is considered to be so generous. However, though we are certainly rich in comparison to other nations and even to our parents and grandparents at the same stage of life, the reality is that Christians spend the majority of our money on ourselves. According to the Barna Group, “The average amount of money donated per person was $1232. That suggests that the typical individual gave away about 3% of their income.” This means that people spend more money on cable television and cell phones than they do on the Kingdom of God. There is a prevailing attitude that says, “It’s my money and I’ll spend it how I want. Nobody, including God, is going to tell me what to do with my money.”
Christian giving is strictly voluntary. It is a spiritual discipline that should be a part of every believer’s life, but just like prayer and Bible reading it cannot be forced on someone. Though it is not to be forced or coerced, neither is it to be casual, carefree and a mere afterthought. As Christians grow in their faith they should be growing in their giving.
In 2Corinthians 9:1-15, the apostle Paul addressed the Corinthians and their commitment to a offering collection for ministry. Paul’s emphasis in this section of his letter is to encourage the Corinthians to follow through in this important part of their Christian faith … generosity for the sake of the spread of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We have to plan to be generous. Generosity does not just happen. Planning to be generous requires us to understand the truth of ownership. Psalm 24:1 declares, “The earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains, the world, and those who dwell in it.” Bottom Line: God is the giver. We do not have because we worked hard, but because God has been good to us. The fact that God is the giver of everything is foundation to our giving. The key to generosity is not caring less about what we have in the world, but caring more about God’s purposes in granting us His gifts. Being generous demands humility; not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.
Planning to be generous also requires that we identify the obstacles to generosity in our lives. Paul wrote of the Corinthians that he was aware of their readinessand that they were prepared to give. The word translated for prepared in 2Corinthians 9:3 is a military term that describes the troops as being prepared for action. After all, faith must bear fruit in our lives. God’s people need to plan to be generous because generosity does not just happen. Paul actually identified the core issue of our being ill-prepared … covetousness. Our single greatest obstacle to being generous is our own self. Because of our self-centered approach to money, we spend money on things that actually prevent us from being generous because we misunderstand what it really means to be happy.
Not only must we plan to be generous, but we must actually practice being generous. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians underlines that practicing generosity requires us to demonstrate trust and faith in God. In 2Corinthians 9:6-7 Paul describes two ways of sowing seed: sparingly and bountifully. He also explains the harvest of each method. He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly and he who sows bountifully will reap bountifully. Generosity is a trust issue. It takes faith to give and believe that God will replenish. God’s promise to provide the generous giver is so that the generous giver will have the means to continue being generous. The promise is not that God will reward the generous giver so he can consume it on his own desires, but so he can continue to minister to others. God calls this generous giver cheerful. The word translated here literally means hilarious. What is cheerful giving? Cheerful giving is the overflow of joy we experience as we walk in the grace of God that results in generosity for the purpose of spreading the gospel worldwide.
When we demonstrate our trust and faith in God we are then revealing our obedience to God. In 2Corinthians 9:9 Paul wrote that the generous, cheerful giver would experience sufficiency in everything. The world’s philosophy is that we should work to be self-sufficient, but God teaches us that we are to be dependent upon Him. Paul’s point is that as we give generously for the mission of the gospel god will supply or replenish what we need to be able to continue doing these good deeds of righteousness. This is what it means that we cannot out give God. His blessings are a never ending supply that pour from the sufficiency of His faithfulness.
Generosity is an act of faith and obedience in response to God’s grace. Paul assumes that Christians will give all they can to meet as many needs as they can in order to glorify God as much as they can. This means that generosity is an attitude of faith. We do not give out of gratitude for God’s goodness but in faith for what God wants to do with the gospel. Faith is the motive for generosity, not gratitude. If gratitude is the motive then we are simply trying to pay God back for His grace … which we can never do! Paul points to our continuing trust in god’s continuing grace as the fountain of our generosity. His focus is not on trying to be more grateful, but on learning to trust God more.
As we demonstrate trust and reveal obedience we will naturally enjoy contentment. What makes us content in our generosity? Our contentment is in God being glorified … being generous so that the gospel is spreading across the world, people are being saved and disciple, and thanksgiving and praise are being given to God.