The theme of generosity runs through 2 Corinthians 8 & 9.
In chapter 8 Paul is explaining to the Corinthian church about an offering that is being collected for the poverty-stricken church in Jerusalem. For many of these Jewish Christians their conversion to Christianity had cut them off from family and employment. Times were really tough. So Paul asked the Gentile Christians to help them out – in part hoping that their generosity toward the Jerusalem church would help to bring about a stronger relationship between the two churches. Paul explains to the Corinthians in vv. 1-5 that the uber-poor Macedonians gave generously toward this offering.
Don’t miss v 3. Paul writes that these people actually gave more than they could afford and begged for the opportunity to give even more! While we might be tempted to describe such behavior as foolish –the Bible calls it generosity!
From this example of generosity we can identify several lessons of what our generosity should look like:
1. v3 – Gave from free will
2. v 4 – Considered it a privilege to give
3. v 8 – Is a demonstration of their love for God
4. Chpt 9 v 2 – enthusiastic giving is contagious – it spurs others on
The lessons on Christian giving continues in 2 Corinthians 9. 6-11a with an emphasis on the direct results of living a life of generosity with the law of sowing and reaping.
There is no other exact parallel to Paul’s statement here but it is similar to Luke 6.3 “Give, and you will receive”and Galatians 6.7 “You will harvest what you plant”
Paul describes what that harvest looks like in v 8. There’s that word “generously” again and notice here that your needs will be met and you will have enough left over to share with others.
This verse does not teach that if you give you will get. This is not wealth and prosperity gospel.
In fact, even though you will receive more only your needs will be met because you will be giving more and more away. In God’s economy some of the richest people will be those who possess the least and the amount they give away may exceed those who have posses more.
It’s clear that God is generous with us. It’s also clear that God wants us to be generous with what he has given us. 2 Corin 9.6-11a tells us that God will provide – in fact REPLACE – what we give so that we can give again, and again.
As Paul continues he explains why God established this principle. In 2 Corinth 9.11b – 15 the word generous/generosity appears leaving no question of what is expected of us because our generosity is credited to God’s generosity who gave us these resources in the first place!
Three times in just 3 verses Paul states that the end result of your generosity will be that others will: 1) thank God. 2) They will joyfully thank God. 3) They will joyfully express their thanks to God!
This sow and reap principle not only provides replacement resources and more to the generous giver but it also brings glory to God. Some mistakenly interpret this passage to mean that if I tithe – give just 10% – then God will reward me and I’ll get even more! So the best way to get is to give. This viewpoint really misses the mark.
I think its best described by one of Randly Alcorn’s treasure principles: God increases your income not to raise your standard of living but to raise your standard of giving. His point is that if you are able to live on $40,000 and tithe on that income then as your income increases you ought to be able to give away an even greater percentage. Nearly 100% of the time, Christians simply increase their standard of living.
We might continue to tithe so we are in fact giving away more –but not as much as we could if we chose to live more simply and give away at a higher rate.
What have you chosen to give up so that you can give away more?