Don’t know exactly why the Spirit has determined to put this on my radar this morning, but evidently He does.
As I think about it, I’m probably still getting comfortable with 2Corinthians 8 and 9. I’ve never been a big fan of fund-raising–especially fund-raising in the church. I’m sure it stems from stuff in my past. Certainly from my days outside the church where I developed a cynic’s attitude about Christians and money from the tele-evangelists I saw on TV. And probably from being saved into a fellowship of believers who, for the most part, did not discuss money. They took great care to ensure the left hand didn’t know what the right hand was doing within the church family (Matt. 6:3) and, wouldn’t be caught dead asking outsiders for money as they held to the conviction that the Lord’s work would be supplied by the Lord’s people as the Lord led. Or, maybe I’ve become jaded a bit by the number of times I’ve heard this part of 2Corinthians used to apply what I thought was over-the-top pressure towards some financial goal under the guise of “teaching on stewardship.”
Whatever the discomfort, I need to get over it. The fund-raising Paul was doing for the saints in Jerusalem was God ordained. That the record of it is in my Bible is God-breathed. And, like I said, that it captures my attention this morning is most certainly God directed.
So here’s what I’m chewing on this morning . . . that generosity should mark the people of God.
He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God.
(2Corinthians 9:10-12 ESV)
Enriched in every way to be generous in every way. That’s what caught my attention.
The redeemed should be among the most generous of people. With all that we have been blessed with, not just materially but spiritually as well, we should be the first to want others to benefit from our blessing.
We know we didn’t earn our salvation, for God “saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to His own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior” (Tit. 3:5-6). Enriched in every way through the outpouring of the Spirit.
And, really, our pay checks are only in part about our labor. Mostly they’re just another evidence of God’s faithful provision. And, for many of us in this land of relative abundance, they’re often the substance of God’s overflowing goodness and grace toward us.
So, having been enriched in every way, we are to be generous in every way.
Whether we’re talking about what we possess spiritually or materially, evidence of our new heart in Christ should manifest itself through generosity. If all that we have, be it money in the bank or treasure stored up in heaven, has been graciously supplied by a gifting God, then shouldn’t we in turn be ready and willing to let others share in the abundance we know? If, as Jesus said in Matthew 10, we have freely received, shouldn’t we freely give? I’m thinkin’ . . .
And here’s the other thing that’s grabbed me this morning: we have been enriched in every way to be generous in every way so that God might receive the glory in every way. Twice Paul speaks of their financial gift as not only benefiting the believers in Jerusalem, but also producing thanksgiving to God. That in supplying the need of the saints, their generoistiy more importantly overflows in many thanksgivings to God.
When we purpose to be a cheerful giver, when we act not out of compulsion nor reluctantly to sow bountifully, when we seek to grace as we have been graced, then God gets the glory. What greater motive to do anything than that the LORD would be praised?
Enriched in every way . . . to be generous in every way . . that God receives the glory in every way.
I can get comfortable with that!
By His grace. For His glory.