God’s Formula for Great Giving2 Corinthians 8:1-15Theme: Generosity.This week’s lessons teach us that giving is a matter of the heart.
LessonThis is what Christian people need to do. If people today would really give themselves first to the Lord, they would give their time, their money, and everything else to one another. And the work of God would go forward in our day in ways that we could not possibly imagine.
This is what Paul says to the church at Corinth. They gave, but like so many, they started well and did not continue. Paul pointed to the Macedonians as a great example of those who not only gave but desired to give. In verse 11 he encouraged them to keep it up, to finish the work, and carry it through to the end.
But when is the end for Christian work? The end of Christian work is the day you die. It is good to have that in mind, because in Christian work, after you meet one appeal, there is always another one. And when you meet that, there will be another. Eventually, you get weary in that sort of thing and say, “It never stops. I wish they would just leave me alone to spend my money the way I want.”
What Paul tells these Christians (and he says it to us as well) is that they should not get tired of giving to God’s work because that is what they were called to do. As a Christian you are not called by God to enjoy and indulge yourself, and do anything you want. You are here for this very purpose – to meet that kind of need. Who else will do it if not Christians? The world is not going to do it. The world gives only for its own prestige. It wants to get its name listed as a patron of the arts or some such thing. Christians need to give because they are serving God when they give themselves to one another. So Paul tells them to keep on giving. He admonishes them not to give up because one day they will receive a reward in heaven.
At the very end Paul talks about what we would call “equality,” but he does not mean what we usually mean when we use the word. He says that if Christians do this, if those who can give what they can, in most cases, there will be plenty. God will supply all that is needed. The Church will have what it needs, mission societies will have what they need, and service agencies will have what they need. Even the Gideons will have what they need and there will be Bibles all over the world.
I have sometimes reflected in practical terms on just what could happen if the Church got serious about giving. Some years ago when giving had fallen off a bit at my church, I made an analysis to see what could be done. We had about five hundred families giving in the church at the time. I read somewhere about the average income of people in America. I used the average at the time, which was about $20,000 per family. I multiplied the five hundred families by the average income per family of $20,000. The total is ten million dollars. If a congregation of that size with that kind of average income would just tithe its income – not to mention giving sacrificially, out of severe poverty – the giving per year would be one million dollars. A lot can be done with that amount of money. But, of course, money is not the real issue, the heart is. We must first of all give our hearts to the Lord.
Study QuestionsWhy did the Corinthians’ giving fall short of the intended mark?What is the main purpose for which God blesses us financially?Why is it safe to give sacrificially?When can we retire from Christian work?
Further StudyRead Ezekial 16:49-50. What were the sins of Sodom?
Scripture MemoryMemorize Philippians 4:19.