”He gives you something you can then give away’’ (From verse 11 in The Message.) Giving is a vital part of Christian discipleship.
We are to give generously (6; see also 8-11). This doesn’t just apply to money. It is a general spiritual principle that works out in many ways. But it certainly does apply to money. Think about the realm of agriculture. If you only sow a small part of a field, you will have a relatively small harvest. If you sow a large area of land you can reap a big harvest. I was talking to a farmer and his wife last autumn, and they told me that from a small seed sown you get back something much bigger, more plentiful than you might expect. Proportionately, what you harvest looks far more impressive than what you sow. But, of course, you will get nowhere if you keep the seed in your hand.
We are to give cheerfully (7). One famous preacher paraphrased the last part of this verse as ”Hallelujah! Here comes the plate!!” I heard another leader say that each month, when he and his wife write their tithe cheque, they rejoice that they have once again been able to put to death that greedy, grasping spirit; that poverty mentality that says, ‘I am fearful of shortage.’ Cheerful, and willing giving is one way to overcome the world. (Note that Paul did not stipulate how much people must give; only that they should do so, and generously. He wanted to see ‘free-will offerings’.) ”God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.” The Message.
We are to give abundantly (8-11).
- The abundance of the giver (8, 9): In verse 9 Paul quotes from Psalm 112:9: He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.” The Message. This is part of the righteous life God calls His people to. It is a life of supplying the needs of others (12), serving (13) and sharing what we have (14). By the way, have you noticed how giving binds people more closely together? ”Meanwhile, moved by the extravagance of God in your lives, they’ll respond by praying for you in passionate intercession for whatever you need.” (14) The Message.
- The abundance of the harvest (10, 11). We reap more than we sow. But this harvesting is not for the sake of scrooge-like hoarding. It is so that the virtuous cycle of giving can go on and on in ever-increasing circles. The more you give, the more you have to be able to give. What’s more, the glory goes to God (11b; see also 13). ”Carrying out this social relief work involves far more than helping meet the bare needs of poor Christians. It also produces abundant and bountiful thanksgivings to God.” (12) The Message. And, as someone observed, the moment we stop being generous is when God will stop making us rich!
We are to give obediently (13). Giving is a mark of Christian obedience, and one of the ways we live out the implications of the Lordship of Christ.
We are to give in recognition of the greatest gift (14). Someone spoke of ”the gift of Christ, so great as to be beyond description, the spring and pattern of our giving.” The thought of Jesus’ self-giving should continually challenge us.
”Let us always remember how great God’s power is (Ephesians 3:20-21). From a tiny seed, God can make a great tree. But we have to let go of that seed; we have to bury it in the ground. If we keep that seed in our pocket, no tree will come from it. In the same way, a small boy once gave away five loaves and two fish to Jesus, and Jesus turned them into a feast for five thousand men! (see Mark 6:35-44).” Tom Hale: The Applied New Testament Commentary, p.683
Prayer: Lord I ask you to direct my giving, that I may always please and glorify you by generosity.