Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8.
(What is God saying here?)
2 Corinthians 8:1-2 (NLT)
1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.
2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:7 (NLT)
7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
2 Corinthians 8:11-12 (NLT)
11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.
Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.
(How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)
The theme of this whole chapter is on giving. Too often non-Christians are turned off from church because they feel like, and even fear, that the church begs for money too much. This is so unfortunate, for ‘church’ was never started so we would have a place to give, even though it is the place that we give to show our obedience to God and our love and appreciation to Him for all that He has given to us. The primary function of the church building is to give every opportunity to the people attending to know our Lord and Savior, and this is done through a non-believer surrendering their lives over to Jesus and accepting Him as Lord of their life. Secondly, it is a place where those who have accepted Jesus as Lord can grow that love in a deeper and even more meaningful way by learning more from God’s Word and applying it to our daily lives. It is out of these two acts that Christians want to be obedient in giving to God, according to His Word, and it is from the overflow of abundant joy in our relationship with God that we give generously to the Lord – generally for the ongoing work of the Lord in and through the church and/or its mission work. Now a few things about this giving:
- How much do I give? – Monetarily, God’s Word teaches that we give a tithe of 10% of our income. Example might be that if you earn $500 per week, you give $50 to the Lord. This should be based on what you earn, not what your net take home pay is, or what is left over after you pay all of your bills. For many of us, this is a matter of trust and strict obedience, for from our perspective we can find many reasons to tell God that we just can’t afford to give that much. Friend, I can tell you from personal experience that when you give to God out of obedience, and because of your love and relationship with Him, you will not be short with what you have left to meet your expenses. God will provide for your ‘needs’! In fact, we find that we can cover a whole lot more with the 90%, than we could ever think of covering with the 100% if we withhold from God!
- How can I be assured that the church will be wise in spending the money given by tithers? – There are several references in this chapter to giving to God, and in neither of them do we see that this (what the church does with the money) is a prerequisite of the giver. God has blessed me with a job, with salvation and in numerous ways, so I give in obedience to Him. He will hold churches and their leaders responsible for the manner in which they use funds given for His work.
- I don’t have much to give, what should I do? – There is a story about a woman who gave a penny to the Lord, because it was all she had. In God’s Words He told the leaders that she was the biggest giver that day. In verse 11 we are reminded that we give in proportion to what we have. Therefore some can only give a penny, while others may be able to give $1,000. One gift is no more valuable than the other in God’s eyes, because He is looking at the heart in which you gave – honesty, appreciation, love, etc.
- Money is not mentioned in this chapter, so why talk about money? – It is sad to say, but too often God’s people will reflect their heart by what they give monetarily. But money is not the only form of giving to the Lord, for we should also give to him as Paul did, through our works to ensure that others who are without Christ, might come to know Him as Lord. This means that we should also give of ourselves for furthering God’s kingdom.
Friend, God is good to us every day. Join me in showing appreciation to Him though giving hearts!
(With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because He said it?)
Thank You Father for giving the ultimate gift – Your only son, Jesus. Because of Your gift, I can look forward to spending eternity with the Master of this universe, the One who expressed love for me in such a sacrificial way that has never been witnessed again by humankind. Thank You for loving me so much to give so generously. Please continue to impress upon me the need to give back to You in all that I do and with all that I have.
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