Throughout Corinthians, Paul outlines eight reasons to be generous. This Vision Builders season and in our daily lives, we can learn from Paul's writings to the Corinthian church.
1. Others Have Given
Paul has a project. He has travelled around the churches and raised pledges from them for the poor Jerusalem church.
'The churches in Macedonia… gave not only what they could afford but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem.' - 2 Corinthians 8:1
Corinth was wealthy; Macedonia, poor.
Paul is urging that there no longer be inequality amongst the people of God, but that everyone give.
Malachi reveals that the windows of Heaven open over people when everyone brings in the tithe. This means the windows of Heaven are closed over the people who are not bringing the tithe into the House of God.
2. The Responsibility Of Leadership
The Corinthian church was a leader to many other churches.
'Since you excel in so many ways — you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us — now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving. I am not saying you must do it, even though the other churches are eager to do it. This is one way to prove your love is real.' - 2 Corinthians 8:7-8
Any leadership church that functions in an apostolic role must also assume the responsibility of leadership in the area of giving so that others might follow.
We are all involved in influencing others. We are all involved in making disciples.
As we give, so will others.
3. The Example of Christ
Paul appeals to the fact that Jesus, though rich, gave up everything for us. This is an example we should follow.
'You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.' - 2 Corinthians 8:9
This scripture refers to when Christ went to the Cross. He became poor with our poverty. He was even buried in a borrowed grave.
4. Integrity Of Promise
Paul appeals to their integrity, that they would keep their word, which they would do what they said they would.
'So here's what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart's been in the right place all along. You've got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands. This isn't so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you're shoulder to shoulder with them all the way...' - 2 Corinthians 8:10-15 (MSG)
Paul is urging them to complete their pledge.
The reason many of us have such a hard time believing the Word of God is because we don't believe our own word.
Making pledges is part of the Christian life. Nothing is achieved without commitment.
Our commitment needs a specific project, an actual context, to be real.
Generosity and character are not gifts from God. We build generosity and character into our lives. The basis of character, integrity and trustworthiness is keeping our word.
5. The Power of Testimony
Your giving stirs others to be generous.
'…it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of them to begin helping.' - 2 Corinthians 9:2-5
We should always testify of how good God has been in our lives. The testimony of people stirs others to greater levels of giving and receiving.
6. The Laws Of Giving
Paul appeals to them to understand the laws of God.
'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.' - 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
Abundant reaping only comes because of abundant sowing.
To the person who is an abundant, generous, cheerful and purposeful giver, God will make all grace abound.
Grace is favour with God. It is unlimited blessing. It is enabling power. It is all the gifts of God. It is the free, undeserved, unmerited, unearned blessing of God.
It will abound toward you. It will not just sneak up on you. It will not timidly come through the door slowly. It will not come in small measures, little drops and slight occurrences. It will abound toward you.
Paul goes on to say that the purpose of always having this abundance is so that we can be engaged in every good work.
7. God Will Supply Seed To The Sower
'Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown...' - 2 Corinthians 9:10
Once you've made the commitment to be a sower, God will supply the seed for sowing.
A sower is a person who has a lifestyle of sowing. They see themselves as a source of supply for the Kingdom.
God doesn't 'run out'. He's a river - an inexhaustible river of abundant supply. God will never run dry. The supply of God is fluid. As His supply flows through us, it also flows to us.
8. The Glory Of God
The ultimate result of great generosity is glory to God.
'You will be glorifying God through your generous gifts.' - 2 Corinthians 9:12-13
When people step out in faith and give generously, God is glorified.
People who give are worshippers. They glorify God with their generosity.
The receivers of the gift glorify God for supplying their need so abundantly.
Great offerings bring glory to God.