At a time of economic downturn and rise in unemployment over the course of a global pandemic, the idea of giving, and giving generously, can be understandably very challenging for many. We find in this chapter that Paul, writing to the church in Greece, highlights some absolutely essential truths about giving, for believers to take hold of.
Giving blesses others & releases us from self-centredness Firstly, Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians helps us know that it’s good and right to raise collections to bless those in need, and facing hardships. In the case of the Corinthians, the persecuted Church in Jerusalem were to be the benefactors of this inspired collection.
What’s interesting is that Paul has already fired shots concerning the socioeconomic inequalities at the communion meal (1 Cor 11:21). However, this fault does not falter Paul’s confidence here in requesting this collection nor does it stop him from opening it up for the whole church to give irrespective of material wealth or lack thereof. It goes to show how practical God is in remedying heart issues – he calls us to practice repentance. And to those who are discriminated/victimised, the Lord in this instance, doesn’t dwell on their loss or lack (though we know he remembers such things e.g Romans 8:28; 2 Corinthians 1:5-6) but instead addresses their new generous nature by calling it out.
There’s no need for pity parties but tremendous need to focus on identity (God’s and ours) to prompt oneself to act accordingly in expectation that God will make waves. To those Corinthians filling their boots at communion and seeing double on wine (to the loss of participation from poorer members) God calls for repentance. In this chapter we see that He adds more opportunity for the Corinthians to break out of their self-centredness (weather selfishness or self-pity) and to put their trust in him through this collection.
Paul gives us several more spiritual insights about giving:
- You reap what you sow – Paul states “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully”(v10). In essence , if we give little we’ll receive little, but if we give much we shall receive much. It’s important that we don’t funnel our giving and receiving from God into a financial category. Paul indicates that God’s grace enriches in every way. This means that God enriches us in more ways than financially alone when we give (v11). Moreover, giving is not to be thought of as simply financial but multifaceted e.g. giving a listening ear, feedback, practical help, comfort, material possessions e.t.c.
- “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart” (v7) – It’s important that we give from a clear conscience rather than “reluctantly” or under “compulsion” which isn’t based on faith and as such does not please God.
- “God loves a cheerful giver” (v7) – this should help remind us that God is cheerful in his generous giving toward us. We should be happy to receive all the good gifts he gives us. And likewise be happy in our giving to others.
- God supplies and multiplies what we can give away (v8, v10, and v11) – Isn’t this fantastic? God is our great supplier who gives to us all the different things we can give away, and multiplies what we can give away when we’ve given. So at no point can we say we have nothing to give.
- Giving brings glory to God (v13) – Paul informs the Corinthians that those believers who receive their gift shall glorify God. In extension I believe that to those we give to we provide an opportunity for them to know God’s generous nature and to give him praise.
As favoured and adopted children of our Father in heaven, we have much to be glad about in this trying season. We’re reminded by Paul to not just celebrate in what we’ve been given, but to likewise give cheerfully from a generous heart. Happy giving.