Pastor Tom Ascol continues his series on 2 Corinthians. In a message entitled “Biblical Giving,” he exposits 2 Corinthians 8:1 through 9:15. Everyone seems to know of examples where churches appear to be focused on “passing the basket” for collections but in this passage God’s mind on giving is plainly evident.
Understanding the context of the passage is important. The Corinthians had promised financial help for struggling brethren in Jerusalem but had yet to fulfill their pledge. Since giving in response to what God has given is at the heart of Christianity, and since the Corinthians had made a pledge, fulfillment should have been at the core of their Christian walk. Paul gives eight characteristics of Christian giving:
- Give with a determination to excel in the grace of giving (8:1-7). Generosity beyond what seems naturally possible (out of extreme poverty) should be the mentality of a Christian. We are to aspire to excel in giving (v. 7).
- Give because God’s grace has been given to you (8:8-9). For our sake Christ put aside His riches in the Incarnation and became poor for us. That should serve as an example for God’s children.
- Give with intentional commitment (8:10-12; 9:1-4). Their good start in seeking to meet the needs of others was inspiring; now they needed to complete the work.
- Give as a matter of fairness (8:13-15). Paul encourages the Corinthians to meet the needs of others whose needs are not met. Sharing God’s bounty is part of a believer’s reasonable service.
- Give with integrity and discernment (8:16-24). Paul appointed men of proven character to handle and distribute offerings to insure the integrity of the process. Givers can be assured of proper control and treatment of their offerings.
- Give cheerfully (9:5-7). Giving should not be reluctant or under compulsion but should be done willingly and cheerfully finding joy in contributing to the work of the Lord and the aid of the brethren. It was Jesus who said “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
- Give because God gives generously (9:8-11a). God, by His grace, supplies all our needs. God gives generously. This portion of Scripture has been taken out of context and abused by preachers of the prosperity gospel, a false gospel. We do not give so that God will enrich us materially; God enriches us so we can be generous in every way. Paul asks in an earlier letter (1 Corinthians 4:7) “What do you have that you did not receive?” Ultimately God has given all we have which provides us with a reason to give back.
- God is glorified when we give (9:11b-15). Giving as God directs results in thanksgiving for the giver and recipient both. People will be blessed and, having their needs met, will glorify God.
Paul finishes this section with praise and thanksgiving: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” God’s gift of Jesus Christ makes this kind of giving possible for the believer. For unbelievers, the first step needs to be a coming to Christ who calls even today. Have you received God’s gift of salvation? Open your life to Jesus Christ, receive Him, trust Him, confess Him today and be His.