Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24
Observation: Paul encourages the Corinthians to give generously to a fund set up to help the poor. He mentions the churches in Macedonia who already gave generously, and he encourages them to also give eagerly. He finishes by mentioning that Titus, who is upright in character, can be trusted to handle the gift.
Application: Money. Cash. Cheddar. Bones. Big Ones. Whatever you call it, we can all get a little obsessed with it sometimes. We’re convinced it’ll solve our problems, bring less worry, allow us to attain the life we’ve always wanted. If we’re extraordinarily altruistic, we believe having more money will make us more generous, providing a better life for our kids, our families, our friends, others we love. But, my friends, Notorious B.I.G. said it best: “More money, more problems.” Or more accurately, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”
(P.S. I don’t recommend you model your life after anything else Notorious said, but hey, truth is truth wherever you find it, right?)
More money almost always equals more problems. And it rarely equals more generosity.
Paul, in his blunt, straightforward way, tells the Corinthians: your spiritual gifts, your faith, your love for others – those are all good, but they’re not everything. As followers of Jesus, you’re called to give generously, too.
Now, don’t worry – he’s not commanding them to be generous. He’s simply testing how genuine their love is by comparing it to how eagerly other churches gave. (Ha!)
This generosity thing isn’t really about money. It’s about our hearts, recognizing the lavishly generous grace that our Savior poured out for us.
“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” (verse 9)
Giving doesn’t come from a place of obligation but rather from love.
“Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.” (verse 12)
Generosity isn’t a dollar amount. It’s a heart condition.
Certainly, the first question is – do you consistently give your first (or “tithe” your first 10%) back to what matters to God? However, that’s the starting line of generosity, not the finish line. The next question is – are you truly generous? Do you give eagerly, out of a love for God and for others? Like the Macedonians, do you give sacrificially? Will you go without so others can prosper?
For all my box checkers out there, these can be challenging questions. I’m right there with you. I tithe – I do it because I want to give back to what matters to God, and I do it because it’s the “right” thing to do. But, our generosity can’t end there. True generosity can’t be contained to a single act. True generosity is never out of obligation but is always an opportunity.
Let’s be truly generous today.
Prayer: God, thank you for these challenging words about generosity. I pray for a generous heart, that I can continually give more and more out of an overflow of my deep love and commitment to you. Challenge me today. Amen.