Cheerful Givers2 Corinthians 9:6-15Theme: Gratitude.This week’s lessons teach us that we should give willingly, generously, and cheerfully.
It is interesting how, in this great second letter of Paul’s to the Corinthians, that he spends so much time on the subject of giving. This offering, which he was receiving from the Gentile churches and would eventually take to Jerusalem for the poor, was clearly very important to Paul. So, obviously, what the Corinthians did in this matter of giving would also be very important.
We begin this section with verse 6 in chapter 9, where, after a shift of emphasis as he talks about Titus and those who were sharing with him in the ministry, Paul returns specifically to giving. What he talks about here is Christian giving that is pleasing to God, the blessing that is there for those who give, and then, in the third place, God’s example as a motivation for us to give.
First of all, Paul spells out the nature of Christian giving. “Remember this,” he said. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. Whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Those two verses, 6 and 7, give three characteristics of Christian giving that we can use to measure our own giving.
The first characteristic is that Christian giving is generous; the second is that it is willing; and the third is that it is cheerful. There is something for us to learn about all three.
In the matter of generosity Paul holds out a principle. If you sow sparingly, that is, if you give just little bits here and there, that is the way you get it back. This is true in spiritual things as well as in material things. But on the other hand, he says, if you give generously, you will reap generously. It is obviously a generous spirit that he is holding forth. I think we need to say when we talk about generosity in Christian giving, however, that it is always a matter of the heart and it is always proportionate to what we have.
It is not the amount that God is concerned about. It is whether there is a generous disposition and whether one is anxious to meet the needs of others out of whatever one happens to have.
At this point we cannot overlook the story found in the twenty-first chapter of Luke’s Gospel. In that story the Lord was standing outside the temple where there was a widow who had just two mites – that is, the smallest coin that you could possibly have. This woman threw them into the treasury. The treasury was actually a receptacle made out of metal which was designed to make a noise when you gave. And so, what you wanted to do was come with a great, big handful of change and sling it into the horn of the treasury making a big rattle. Everybody would turn around to see who had given so much money.
So along came this woman with two little coins. If she had hurled them at the container, it would have made a faint noise and it would be gone. Jesus knew the woman’s poverty and said, “I tell you the truth… this poor widow has put in more than all the others. All these people gave their gifts out of their wealth; but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” This is how God measures generosity. It is not how much you can give; it is whether you have a heart that has been touched by God’s generosity to you and whether, out of that abundance that you have received, you give what you can for those who are in need.
Gifts that are given like that, however small, are not passed over. Near the end of Matthew’s Gospel in the twenty-fifth chapter, Jesus gives a parable about those who were passed over and those who were received. Those who were received had given a cup of water in Jesus’s name. This is real giving and generous giving, but it is out of the heart, in which case, not even the smallest gift that is given goes unnoticed.
What are the three characteristics of Christian giving?
What is the biblical principle of sowing and reaping?
Where does true generosity begin?
Further StudyStudy the story of the poor widow in Luke 21:1-4. How did Jesus evaluate her gift?