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Articles

“The Grace of Giving”

Categories: Bible, Church, Discipleship, Faith, Love, Teaching

“Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor. 9:7)

Throughout Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to bring their collection for needy saints in Jerusalem to completion (2 Cor. 8-9) the collection itself is called many things: “the grace of God” (8:1), “a gracious work” (8:6, 7), “this generous gift” (8:20), “ministry to the saints” (9:1), “a bountiful gift” (9:5). It is no wonder, then, that Paul likened the gracious act of giving to those in need to the work of grace performed by Jesus on the cross for sinful man (8:9). Both were works of grace, the condescending favor of one party bestowed on a less fortunate party.

Naturally, giving is much more difficult than receiving. In giving to others we feel like all the blessing has gone out feeling a little emptier than when we began. Yet Jesus has taught us, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35) because in the act of giving, especially when we expect “nothing in return,”  we are proving to be “sons of the Most High” (Lk. 6:25). We are taught by God’s grace (2 Cor. 8:9; Titus 2:11-14) to reflect His grace toward others.

We might expect the greatest blessing in giving to others graciously to be the positive effect it brings to the recipient. Yet, this is secondary to a greater good, namely, the glorification of God (Mt. 5:16). This is the ultimate aim of God’s children in their actions of love.

If God’s glory is at the center of our exercising grace then we are freed from the fleshly lust of giving selfishly (Lk. 6:34) to give both generously and cheerfully (2 Cor. 9:6-7). Paul explained this with the principle of sowing and reaping (v.6). What is true naturally is also true spiritually (Mk. 10:30; Gal. 6:8-10). God not only supplies the seed needed to cause the fruits of righteousness to grow but He also causes the growth as well! (1 Cor. 3:6-7).

Knowing these principles to be trustworthy, we are to be purposeful and cheerful givers. Therefore, we must make up our minds to give beforehand with deliberate purpose, not in a haphazard manner nor with any reluctance. It should not pain us to give to others because we do so “not under compulsion” or of necessity. This means we should never contribute to the needs of others because we feel it is our “duty,” as if God should have to cast some gloomy shadow of obligation upon us. Such a contribution would result in the opposite of cheerfulness or happiness: regret.

On the other hand, one who has learned by God’s grace to give with grace, that is, purposefully and cheerfully, is loved by God (2 Cor. 9:7). Those, then, who are eager to receive God’s love will be motivated to give in this way (Heb. 13:16). In fact, it ought to be our pleasure to give graciously to others.

Yet there are times we grow weary in doing good (Gal. 6:9) and may falter in our generosity. In those seasons of spiritual drought we are no longer serving “by the strength which God supplies” (1 Pet. 4:11) and have instead fallen back into thinking we can be gracious without God. We must have faith that as long as we are seeking “first His kingdom and His righteousness” God will take care of our needs (Mt. 6:25-33). The man of faith knows that God is powerful enough to equip him to be a cheerful giver (2 Cor. 9:8; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Eph. 2:10).

Who is the “one man [who] gives freely, yet gains even more” (Prov. 11:24)? This paradoxical proverb describes the man who believes that being gracious to others will not diminish his capacity to provide for his own or to continue in benevolence (Psa. 37:25). He understands that God both replenishes the blessing that has gone out and fills up to overflowing. He is the branch that is pruned to bear even more fruit (Jn. 15:2).

This truth was expressed beautifully by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9:10, “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” The harvest of the Corinthians’ righteousness was the collection for needy saints. The harvest for our righteousness is whatever work of gracious giving we are engaged in.

Just as God supplies the farmer’s seed that produces bread to eat, the same gracious God will supply us with all we need to be gracious to others. Through those who give freely, God will supply a bumper crop of blessing! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:15), His grace is truly all sufficient (12:9).

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