We give because God gave. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son…” God demonstrated His generosity by graciously giving His Son, Jesus, to endure the cross for us that we might we receive eternal life. This gracious gift was not a result of our works, skills, or prestige. Instead, this gift was completely based in His eternal grace. If God gives so abundantly to us who don’t deserve it, how much more should we give to others?
Jesus taught the disciples that giving was a mark of being His true disciple. Those who gave Him food when He was hungry, a drink when He was thirsty, clothes when He was naked, or companionship when He was in prison would inherit the kingdom. They wondered when Jesus was ever in these circumstances, and He told them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40). Generosity is a clear discipline of Jesus’ disciples.
In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, we find 10 aspects of Christian Generosity. I encourage you to read 2 Corinthians 8-9 yourself and pray that God would lead you to give like He has given.
- Give even when times are hard. The church in Jerusalem was under persecution and had great needs. Paul had called on churches in Macedonia and elsewhere to send gifts to relieve the Jerusalem church. The Macedonians were enduring their own persecution and were poor in material things. But they were overflowing with the joy of the Lord and desire to serve Jesus! Even in their hard times, they gave to others. (2 Corinthians 8:2)
- Give eagerly and cheerfully. The Macedonian churches were eager to serve Jesus and give to others. The joy of the Lord had so filled their hearts that they cared more about the needs of others than their own possessions. They even begged Paul over and over that they could participate in this giving campaign for the Jerusalem church. Paul shared the example of the Macedonian churches with the Corinthian church, and encouraged them to give cheerfully (2 Corinthians 8:4-5, 9:7)
- Give out of abundance. The reality is that God has given you an abundance of something that someone else is lacking. It may not be a vast abundance, but its enough that you can meet a need. Paul explained to the Corinthian church that there should be fairness in giving. We don’t to make the lives of others easier and make our lives harder. Instead when we have abundance, we can help those who don’t. (2 Corinthians 8:13-14)
- Give beyond your means. Sacrifice comes to mind here. Jesus gave His life that we would have eternal life. Parents often go without in order that their kids don’t. Sometimes giving to others means that we go without ourselves. What an ultimate testimony of love! (2 Corinthians 8:2-3)
- Give in faith. Giving becomes a lot easier when we trust God provides for our every need. God has promised to supply your needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19), and to provide all you need (2 Corinthians 9:8). The truth is that all we have – our money, possessions, assets, time, health – is on loan to us by God, and we are to steward them all according to His will. Malachi 4:10 says, Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. And thereby put me to the test, says the Lord of hosts, if I will not open the windows of heaven for you and pour down for you a blessing until there is no more need. When you believe this, you won’t hesitate to give.
- Giving is enriching. You and I are like conduit. God has blessed us in order that we might use what He has given us to bless others. The more we give in obedience to the Lord according to His will, the more His blessings will increase in us. His blessings are greater than material stuff. His blessings are joy, love, grace, mercy, thanksgiving, praise, fulfillment, faithfulness, treasures in heaven – we could go on and on! (2 Corinthians 9:11)
- Give to meet needs. Each one of us at times will be in need. I am thankful for believers faithful to give money, time, encouragement, food, clothing, even godly advice to those who need it. Many of these needs at times are provided through the ministries of the church, and with each one the message of the Gospel is shared. Your tithes and offerings given through the church meet needs. (2 Corinthians 9:12)
- Give to encourage worship. Paul explained to the Corinthian church two things occur when they give. First, needs are met. Second, their generosity results in an overflow of thanksgiving to God! Not only are there physical benefits from our giving today, but eternal benefits too. God is glorified in our giving. (2 Corinthians 9:12-13)
- Giving is an act of obedience. As a follower of Christ, I am to obey His commands. Jesus was clear that we are to give to others, just He gave His life for us. The Gospel is a message of complete generosity. I encourage you not to overlook the opportunities to give and support the ministry of the Gospel around you. (2 Corinthians 9:13)
- Give and Pray. When the churches in Macedonia and Corinth gave, the church in Jerusalem prayed. They prayed for their benefactors with deep affection and thanksgiving. They asked the God of all to bless them. Let us be quick to seek God’s will, pray for others and to give as He leads.