SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul continues his thoughts from yesterday on the subject of money. Jewish Christians in Jerusalem were on the verge of starvation, and Paul knew that these Gentile Christians had an opportunity to reach out in compassion. Giving was a way to unify a growing and diverse church and meet a real physical need.
- Paul then reminds them that he is sending Titus and others to retrieve the money they previously promised. He encourages them to prepare for this commitment ahead of time so that they may give generously instead of begrudgingly.
- Paul then stresses the importance of giving what you feel is right over giving a specific percent. This produces a joyful giver verses an obligatory one. He then shares a powerful promise. If you give cheerfully to God, he will provide for your needs. And he will give generously to you so that you can continue to be even more generous! Pretty cool, right?
- We all know a little about Investment 101. Whatever you put into something you will get out of it. This principle applies with God as well. Paul chooses an analogy from farming, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously," to show that reward is proportional to investment.
- Giving is important, but our attitude of giving is even more important. Paul explains that we should give from a free and cheerful heart instead of from pressure or guilt.
- Paul shows us all the benefits of giving. If we are generous to God, he will be generous to us. In return, we should be even more generous. Why? Because giving helps supply the needs of people God loves and it's a way to thank God for his love. Then, out of our generosity, those who receive it will give thanks to God as well.
- In the Old Testament God gives ten percent as the minimum standard for giving back to God (see Malachi 3:9-10, Leviticus 27:30, Proverbs 3:9-10). But, we see in the New Testament a new standard. This new standard is one of "generosity." That may seem vague, because it is! Paul's point of not giving a number or percentage is because of obligation. If our hearts are really aligned with God's heart we will want to give as much as we can. A number becomes unnecessary. When we align with God's heart we will look for opportunities to give. Giving is gratitude. Is this how you view your money? Do you give to Verve? Do you give to the homeless or a great program like Compassion International? If the answer is no, why not? What are your excuses? What is standing in the way? If you do give, are you giving the "expected" 10%, or are you giving as much as you are able? Remember, if you give with an open hand and open heart, God will always supply your needs and take care of you. You have nothing to fear but the incredible joy of giving what was never yours to begin with.