Jesus and {Your?} His Money: Part 9 Money: Cultivating Generosity

October 20, 2016 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments

Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement

This is the ninth in a series of reflections on Jesus’ teaching about money and wealth in the Gospels. Randy Alcorn, writing in The Treasure Principle: Unlocking the Secret of Joyful Giving, says, “15 percent of everything Christ said relates to this topic – more than his teachings on heaven and hell combined” (p. 9). How does Jesus want us to think about money? How does the Gospel affect our attitude toward the use of money? Join me on this multi-week exploration of what Jesus teaches about money.

Last week we turned to Paul's encouragement of the Corinthian church regarding giving in 2 Corinthians 8. Paul calls the opportunity to give a grace of God. Generosity grows as the grace of God works in
one's life. Paul continues his encouragement of the Corinthians in chapter 9 by giving some practical guidelines for cultivating generosity.

1. Plan ahead. Paul says in 9:5 that he sent ahead his ministry partners to Corinth in order to see that their gift "may be ready." He wanted them to plan ahead to give to the offering he was collecting. He does this so that the gift would be a "willing gift, not as an extraction." Paul did not want his presence to pressure anyone into giving. And he did not want the excitement of the moment to pressure anyone into giving. He wanted each person to plan ahead, to think about and decide what he or she would give.

Likewise we ought to think carefully about what we will give in an offering to the church or to a missionary or to a specific need. This thinking or planning ahead is part of God's grace working in our hearts the willingness to be generous. Seeking wisdom from God through prayer is a part of planning ahead. Generosity will never grow in us if we do not take time to think through our giving (which would include thinking about our budget and what sacrifices we can or should make for the sake of being generous).

2. Sow bountifully. Paul turns to an agricultural analogy in verse 6. He says, "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully." In our planning ahead,
Paul wants us to consider the "payback" for our gift. He clarifies this payback in verse 8 as "abounding in every good work" and in verse 10 as "the harvest of your righteousness." Bountiful generosity reaps
a bountiful growth in grace as evidenced in good works and righteousness. God uses bountiful generosity in our lives as a further means of his grace. Don't be stingy in your giving, as it stymies grace.

3. Be joyful. Probably the best known verse on giving is found in verse 7: "Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." Paul not only wants us to think ahead, but also feel ahead. The heart follows the mind. If we understand that God is the source of all we have and enjoy and that God is sovereignly watching out for his children and that God uses generosity for our good and others' good then our hearts will be eager in generosity. The cheerfulness follows the truth. The cheerfulness becomes a litmus test of comprehension of the truth.

4. Trust in the Lord. Paul closes this paragraph by highlighting the goodness and sufficiency of God. "God is able to make all grace abound to you...he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will
supply and multiply your seed for sowing..." (v. 8 & 10). Giving is an act of worship where we ascribe greater worth to God than to our money. In giving we declare that we trust God, not money. Paul builds
this confident trust in God by drawing attention to God's trustworthiness. When we cling to money, we reveal that we do not find God trustworthy.

Ponder Paul's teaching on giving and take to heart these instructions. May you grow in generosity and find that God is able to make all grace abound to you.


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