We come into this world as helpless infants who are only concerned about our own needs. And because we are born with a fallen nature, we are selfish. We are takers, not givers. But God is different. He is gracious. He is full of love. He is a giver, not a taker. He wants us to become more like Him – unselfish; full of love; givers, not takers. He wants us to become givers of our time, our talents and our treasures.
Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles, God’s representative to the nations, but he was also a Messianic Jewish man who loved his own people. He was especially concerned for the well-being of his fellow Messianic Jews in Israel. They had been experiencing persecution by the majority of the Jewish people who had rejected the truth about Messiah Yeshua.
What was happening was something like this: the Messianic Jews were banished from worshiping at the temple. They were not allowed to participate in the synagogues. They were fired from their jobs. If they had a business, people stopped doing business with them. Because of the persecution, many had become impoverished. Some of them had been killed.
The Rabbi wanted their Christian brothers and sisters outside of Israel who were better off to help them. In his previous letter, he had given instructions to Messiah’s Community in Corinth to prepare a donation to be given to their brothers and sisters in Israel. In this letter he gives additional instructions which teach us some lessons about giving.
There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. Paul understood he didn’t need to motivate them to give. They were already motivated. 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. In the previous year, the congregations in Achaia (Greece) were ready to raise money to help alleviate the suffering of the Messianic Jews in Israel. However the actual raising of the money had not been completed.
One lesson about giving: We should be eager and enthusiastic about giving. If we are, we can stir others to action. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians … and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. Paul knew that the Corinthians were eager and enthusiastic about giving, and he informed the Macedonians about that, and that made an impact on them. It motivated most of the Macedonians to give – which is a good thing.
Paul had boasted to the Macedonians that the Lord’s followers in Corinth were eager and prepared to give. He wanted to make sure that his boast would not be hollow, so he sent men to help get things ready. 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. 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. 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. Paul did not want his boast about the eagerness and the readiness of the Corinthians to give to be hollow, so, to make sure everything was ready when he arrived, possibly accompanied by some of those Macedonians he had boasted to, he was sending Titus and two unnamed men to finish the arrangements for the generous gift the Corinthians had promised to give.
Another lesson about giving: our attitude about giving is important. God wants us to be generous givers, not grudging givers. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given. When we are feeling pressure to give – pressure that comes from others; or pressure because we have not had enough time to prepare our giving, we can go from generous givers to grudging givers. Give yourself time to think about and prepare your giving, so you can be a generous giver, not a grudging giver.
Another lesson about giving comes from the law of sowing and reaping. Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. All things being equal, the one who plants a lot of seeds will reap more than the one who plants few seeds. The one who plants 500 pounds of wheat will harvest more than the one who plants 50 pounds of wheat.
Generous giving pleases God and He rewards the one who gives generously. Giving is like planting seeds and the rewards God gives is like the harvest that comes from planting those seeds. Just as the one who plants a lot of seeds will reap more than the one who plants few seeds, the more generously we give, the more we will be rewarded. The less we give, the less we will be rewarded. This should motivate us to be generous givers.
Again, it’s important to have the right attitude when giving. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. The decision to give and how much to give should come from our hearts.
We should not give because of compulsion, because others are pressuring us to give.
We should not give more than we are comfortable with giving, so that we are giving reluctantly.
We should give so that we are cheerful about what we are giving. When we do that, we please God who loves a cheerful giver.
That means that something we can do – giving with a cheerful heart – can affect the Creator of the universe; and cause Him to love us even more. Makes me want to be a cheerful giver – how about you?
One of the things that prevents us from giving is the fear that if we give, we won’t have enough for our own needs. Another lesson about giving: We should know that God is able to give us more than we need so that we are able to give to every good work. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
And as he does so often, the Rabbi reinforces his teaching with a quote from the Word of God, in this case, from Psalm 112. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” Psalm 112 teaches us that the Lord wants to bless the righteous who fear Him, who love His Word and who give generously to the poor. Paul believed if the people in Messiah’s Community in Corinth gave generously, they could expect God to bless them so they had enough to meet their own needs and were able to meet the needs of others.
Generous giving increases our reward. Paul believed that God had been blessing the Corinthians spiritually and financially, and would continue to bless them spiritually and financially so that they could give generously; and by doing that, God would be able to increase their reward. Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
Another lesson about giving: generous giving causes others to thank God, and since most people don’t thank God enough, doing something which increases thanksgiving is a good thing. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
Another lesson about giving: our giving should be directed to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people. You’ve heard the saying, “charity begins at home?” It’s important that our giving is directed to supply the needs of the Lord’s people.
Another lesson about giving: Giving is proof of obedience that accompanies confession of the Good News about Messiah. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Messiah, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. Christians and Messianic Jews are expected to give. It’s part of our obedience. It’s easy to talk but not do. Talk is cheap. Action is expensive. Obedience that accompanies confession of the Gospel (words) must be accompanied by action, specifically, by giving.
Another lesson about giving: just as generous giving causes others to thank God, generous giving causes others to praise God, and causing others to praise God is a very good thing. Others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Messiah, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
Another lesson about giving: giving to our brothers and sisters in need causes their hearts to go out to us and causes them to pray for us, and that is a very good thing. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. When we give our resources to help our brothers and sisters who are in need, their hearts go out to us. They love us more and will want to reciprocate in some way; and since they are impoverished and aren’t able to give money to us, they will be motivated to give to us in another way. They will pray for us – and it’s a very good thing to have our brothers and sisters pray for us.
Another lesson about giving: we should always keep in mind that God is the most generous giver of all and has given us the greatest gift. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Over the years I’ve been given some nice gifts – which I am able to describe. My dad gave me my first gun when I was about 12 years old – a Browning 22 caliber lever-action rifle – and I loved that rifle. I still have it. After Martha and I were married and had been saving for about 10 years to buy our first house in Southfield, my parents gave us money to help us with the down payment. I was once given an expensive watch which I would not have bought for myself. Those were memorable gifts and I’m able to adequately describe those gifts.
However, God has given us a gift so much greater it’s beyond our ability to adequately describe. That gift is the salvation and eternal life that comes through the incarnation, perfect life, atoning death and resurrection of His Son, accompanied by the giving of the Spirit. That gift is so amazing, so comprehensive in benefit that we are not able to adequately describe it. But we can thank God for it – and should – frequently. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Lord, thank You for these lessons about giving. We need them.
Help us become more like You – givers, not takers.
Lord, You look at the heart and it’s important for us to have right attitude when giving. Help us to givers who are motivated to give from within, not give because we are pressured from without. May our giving not be a burden but a delight.
When we have time to think about what we want to give, and prepare our giving, it’s easier to be generous givers, not grudging givers.
Thank You that generous giving touches Your heart, and You respond in love to a cheerful giver; and You reward a generous giver; and when we give to our brothers and sisters in need, their hearts go out to us, and they pray for us, and they thank and praise You.
Lord, if we are eager and enthusiastic about giving, we can stir others to give, which is a good thing. Help us be eager, enthusiastic givers.
Than You that You are the most generous giver of all and have given us the greatest gift, a gift that is so great, so comprehensive in blessing that we are incapable of describing it.