“But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” —2 Corinthians 8:7
Throughout chapters eight and nine of 2 Corinthians, Paul lists various motivations for why and how we should give. Giving is not something we should do to draw attention to ourselves, nor should we do it to increase our own wealth. It is true that God promises “whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6), but we should not interpret this to mean that if we give much, God will give us even more for ourselves.
Biblical giving is never about the reward the giver will receive, but rather on what motivates the giver to give. A begrudgingly given gift is of little value. God requires that our giving be a willing, cheerful, generous expression of the thankfulness of our hearts. “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give,” Paul writes, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). We are not called to give out of a sense of Christian duty or obligation, and certainly not as a requirement for our salvation. God looks at the heart of the giver and their willingness to give what they can. This is why Jesus praised the widow who gave all she had as an offering. Although the rich people in the temple gave far more to the treasury that day, Jesus praised this woman because she willingly gave all she could out of her poverty (Luke 21:4).
Cheerful giving is not a natural response, so where does a heart of willing generosity come from? It comes as a response to God’s grace. When we become convinced of the overwhelming love that Christ showed us on the cross by sacrificing His life to save us, then we instinctively find ourselves growing more and more generous towards the needs of the poor and suffering. Christ changes us from the inside out and a cheerful, generous spirit is evidence of the life of Christ living and working within us.
We need to remember that everything we have is not really our own. David writes, “The earth is the LORD’s and everything in it” (Psalm 24:1). Our money and possessions are blessings from God, gifts that He has entrusted to us to use for His glory. God is only asking us to give what He gave to us in the first place, and to cheerfully share with others both our material and spiritual blessings. When people are blessed by our willing generosity, we can then introduce them to the God who makes us generous, and gave us the greatest gift imaginable—His Son.
Dear Father, thank You for the many opportunities to share what You have so graciously blessed me with. Keep me with a heart that gives willingly, cheerfully and generously. Amen!