2 Corinthians 9:7
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
As Paul was writing this letter, conditions in Jerusalem were very difficult. Persecution, famine, and perhaps a bit of mismanagement, had left the church in Jerusalem financially destitute. In order to help those in need, Paul assisted in organizing a financial gift from the gentile churches. This passage lays out the guidelines for the giving and receiving of that gift. The principles Paul presents should help to govern our giving, which we often refer to giving as tithing. The word “tithe” means tenth and refers to the Old Testament Law where the children of Israel were required to give a tenth back to the Lord. The New Testament, while not requiring a tenth, does clearly teach the need to “give back” to the Lord.
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart . . .”
Notice Paul writes, “each one give”. Regardless of our financial condition, we all must consider that God wants us to trust Him; part of that trust is to give from what He has provided for us. He adds, we should each give as we purpose in our own hearts. Rather than giving being a requirement of the law, Paul wants us to see it as an act of worship. Each Christian should sit down before the Lord, lay out his finances and determine what part will be given back. That can often be very difficult. For some, we fear giving because we are not sure how we will manage our budget if we give some of our income away. For others, it is complicated by the fact that we have been so touched by Jesus, we want to give it all away. We may even feel guilty about the portion we keep for ourselves. To help us in our decision, Paul gives a serious of principles that should govern our giving.
“. . . not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.”
If, when you give, you do it bitterly, then the best thing to do is go back to sitting before the Lord and determining why you are unwilling to give back to Him. Our giving should be joyous, as we celebrate all that God has done for us.
“He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” 2 Corinthians 9:6
Paul compares giving to planting. At the end of the season, the farmer does not want to have a pocket full of seeds, but a basket full of fruit. When we determine what to give, we must consider that great spiritual benefits are derived when we give back to the Lord. In the previous chapter, Paul gives a few more principles. He writes,
“For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:12
While it is important that we trust the Lord and give in faith, believing He is able to meet our needs with less than 100% of our income, Paul warns us not to give what we do not have. If you don’t have the money to give, it would be foolish to give on credit. The value of giving is not in the amount, as much as it is in the willingness to trust the Lord. Perhaps we need to reevaluate the way we are spending, if we have nothing left to give.
“And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” 2 Corinthians 8:5
Finally, those who gave to the church, first gave themselves to the Lord. When we give, we are giving to the Lord. We are trusting He will take the little we offer, and use it in a big way to accomplish His purposes. One of the great things about the church is, we are part of a much larger body. When I was in High School, I rarely had much cash.. I can remember going with friends to get pizza. We all pitched in and we all ate till we were full, but we did not all pitch in the same amount. I think I threw down fifty cents. Giving is a little like that. I take from what the Lord has provided for me, and give it back to Him; you do the same, and the Lord accomplishes His purposes with it. Perhaps today would be a good time to sit before the Lord, reevaluate your finances, and determine what He would have you give.