I. The promised gift
2 Corinthians 9:1-5: I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving. But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.
Paul is gathering funds to take care of the needs of poor believers in Jerusalem. This a familiar ministry and obviously one that the church in Corinth wanted to give to. Paul is reminded of their eagerness to give and began to boast about them to believers in Macedonia. This inspired the church in Macedonia to also give towards this ministry.
This took place about a year before, but Paul did not receive any funds from them then, probably because his needs were met at that time. The church promised to send funds in the future. Paul is reminding them of this and is giving them opportunity to be ready.
Have you ever been blindsided by someone before and felt obligated to do something that you really didn’t want to do? I have but it wasn’t giving money. It was doing a 21-day fast. I also was asked to blog about it without being asked first. Needless to say, my heart was not in it.
We can all identify with the believers in Corinthians. There have been times when we have been excited to do something for the Lord, but after time passes or things change, we lose our desire, so we do so out of obligation with a bad attitude instead of willful obedience.
II. The heart behind giving
2 Corinthians 9:6-10: Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say, “They share freely and give generously to the poor. Their good deeds will be remembered forever.” For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
Paul is not talking about the quantity given, but the quality of our heart’s desires and motives.
Luke 21:1-4: While Jesus was in the Temple, he watched the rich people dropping their gifts in the collection box. Then a poor widow came by and dropped in two small coins. “I tell you the truth,” Jesus said, “this poor widow has given more than all the rest of them. For they have given a tiny part of their surplus, but she, poor as she is, has given everything she has.”
God reveals three things we need to know about how He wants us to give:
- You reap what you sow.
- If you sow little, you will reap little. If you sow generously, you will reap a generous crop.
- Ask God what He wants you to give.
- God loves a cheerful giver.
"cheerful" - ἱλαρός - "hilaros"
This does not refer to loud and uncontrolled expressions of leaping and laughter. Rather, it means we get to experience an overwhelming sense of inner joy, gladness and fulfillment that goes along with sincere and generous giving. We give without restraints.
Psalm 112:9: They share freely and give generously to those in need. Their good deeds will be remembered forever. They will have influence and honor.
This psalm is talking about those who fear God. This is how we can give generously because we know God is the One who provides.
2 Corinthians 9:10: For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
III. The ministry of giving
2 Corinthians 9:11-15: Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
Here is a promise for those who trust God as their provider and give cheerfully - you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous.
I believe what gets most people when it comes to giving is we rationalize too much. This only brings doubt and fear. Sometimes we rationalize after we give and become overwhelmed and stressed out. That's no better than not giving.
Giving is a ministry! The only way to grow in the ministry of giving is by asking God what He wants us to give and to step out in faith and give in obedience.
The ministry of giving does three things:
- It proves that you are obedient to the Gospel
- It provides for the needs of others
- It brings praise and glory to God
Bill Ford had a word for Resonate Church (video clip below). He expressed a release of financial blessing on those who are faithful with their finances and faithful with their giving.
Genesis 12:1-3: The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
This is something God stirred in me years ago. I want to be a blessing to others. I want our church to be a blessing to others. This word is for you. God promised this to us, but we must be cheerful givers. This is only possible if we fear Him and trust that He is our provider.