Giving – Part 2

In the earlier article we considered an exhortation to give and, examples of giving. Now we will consider the exercise that giving involves, as seen in 2 Corinthians 8. This exercise lies not only with those who give but also with those who have the responsibility of distributing the gifts of others in a way which is God-honouring.

The apostle was very sensitive about the matter of the Corinthians’ giving. He made it clear to them that he did not want them to think that he was extracting a gift from them by undue pressure. He reminded them that there had been “a readiness to will”, v 8. Now he was looking to them to perform what they had promised a year before, v. 10.

Again, he did not want them to feel burdened by their giving, w. 12-13. He did not want them to feel that they were being robbed. Their “abundance” would meet the need of others at the time, but on some other occasion it might be the “abundance” of others which would be required to meet their need. v. 14. Paul’s concern was that there might be a caring and sharing among God’s people. When we see or hear of a need and it is in our power to do something about it, we should respond generously. The apostle John queried whether the love of God could be in a person who, having possessions. saw a brother in need but had no pity on him, 1 John 3. 17.

Titus shared Paul’s exercise of heart. The apostle described him as, “my partner and fellowhelper concerning you”, v. 23. That is. Titus was one who worked with Paul for the good of the Corinthians. Two others were involved in this ministry, and what a commendation was given to them! The one was highly spoken of by all for his service in the gospel, v. 18, and the other had proved himself to be altogether trustworthy and diligent, v. 22. Paul summed up their work (“the messengers of the churches”) and their worth (“the glory of Christ”), v. 23. It was these men which were chosen to be responsible to convey the gifts of the churches. Thereby everything would be done in an honourable manner, without any room for gossip or criticism. All must be carried out honestly “not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men”, v. 21; cf Ezra 8. 24-30, 33-34. We must covet a conscience void of offence before the Lord and men.

Finally, let us consider the enrichment of the giver, 2 Cor. 9. This should encourage us to be more liberal in our giving. We lose nothing by giving to the Lord, indeed we are the richer. The question is. how much are we prepared to give? “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully”, v. 6. Do we give sparingly, grudgingly and with much holding back? Think of Ananias and Sapphira, who “kept back part of the price”, Acts 5. 2. They made out that they were giving all to the Lord, but in reality were only prepared to give “sparingly”. What a loss was theirs! In the event they forfeited even what they had plotted to retain, w, 5, 10. We are told to give as we purpose in our hearts, and not grudgingly, or because we feel that we must give, “for God loveth a cheerful giver”, v. 7; cf. Rom 12. 8

If we give of ourselves and our substance, we will discover more of what God is able to do for us and through us, v. 8. God’s grace (His favours, blessings, gifts) will “abound” towards us. that in turn, we might “abound” in good works towards others. Note that He can make “all” grace abound, that is. in overflowing measure. The bountifulness of His giving will guarantee that we have a sufficiency at all times and in all circumstances. According to our need will be the supply. Psa. 23. 1; Phil. 4. 19. It will not be. however, that He gives only ample, sufficient grace to meet our own needs, but He will also give such an abundance that we will have enough and to spare - perhaps we should say, enough to share! Beloved, the searching teaching of this passage is that God only pours in as we pour out. The promise of this abundance from the Lord is given to the cheerful and generous giver “Bring ye . .. and . . I will … pour you out a blessing”, Mai. 3. 10. is the challenge.

Paul saw the sending of a gift not only as a means of meeting a need, but as the evidence of obedience to the gospel of Christ, 2 Cor 9. 13 A gift from the Corinthians would oe a proof of the saving power of the gospel at work in them. But their giving would not only be a ministry of love, and a manifestation of the sincerity of their Christian profession, but also a motivation to praise and prayer on the part of others, vv. 11-14 The recipients of the gift would have cause both to thank God for it and to pray for those who had sent it.

The section concludes with Paul’s spontaneous thanksgiving to God for the Lord Jesus, His indescribable Gift - the Gift of all gifts, v. 15 Christ is the Fountain-head jf all the limitless resources of God and the fulness of all His eternal blessings. If God has given such a Gift, we ought to give, first to Him and then to others.

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