Giving is one of the most touchy subjects in the Christian world. Talk about it too much and you’ll sound like a racketeer. Don’t talk about it and you’re keeping the flood ways of blessing from flowing down at your people.
Since I’m neither a pastor or a church administrator, let me share my opinion about this topic.
I know that the Malachi narration about tithing has been used time and time again. When I was a kid, whenever I hear Malachi, I instantly think about “giving time” in church. Add the whole “the concept of tithing is outdated” school of thinking and it leaves the topic of giving tossed in the taboo bunch. Coming across this passage in 2 Corinthians gave me a fresher perspective on giving.
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
I see this passage as a kind of “pro versus con” or “investment versus return” table, the kind I make whenever my students make a presentation or proposal. Here are my reflections on this passage:
In verse 7, Paul tells the Corinthians that, “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion…”
That’s the only investment necessary. Notice that the verse doesn’t state an actual amount. As long as we give from our hearts, we’re good.
Just to clarify, I’m not against the tithing principle. In fact, I make sure to give 10% of everything I get (including love gifts and other windfalls). What I’m trying to point out is that giving should not be out of duty, but out of love.
Tithing is not like paying taxes. God does not employ auditors who calculate the exact amount we have to give Him. He doesn’t need our cash. He needs our love.
Notice the “s” in promises. Yep. God promises more than one benefit of giving. In the text, there are a number of rewards that a cheerful giver will get when he/she gives.
1. v. 8 Blessing of Grace. Now, the promise here isn’t that God will give us everything we need. It’s automatic. He promises His grace which will enable us to excel in doing good.
2. v. 10 Blessing of Righteousness. In this verse, God promises to enlarge the harvest of the giver’s righteousness. Imagine reaping not only physical rewards for your investment, but spiritual rewards as well. My mom is a living testament to this. She is a real giver. And though we may not be as rich as a lot of families out there, we reap a harvest of righteousness in the form of people who love our family in a grand way.
3. v. 11 Blessing of Generosity. The most fatal mistake that people do after reaping the rewards of giving is keeping the blessing for themselves. Verse 11 clearly states that givers will be made rich with the condition that they can enjoy the feeling of generosity. Givers are blessed to enable them to give more. The world may not understand the sense in that. What’s good about getting more if you’re bound to lose it too, right? But I speak by experience when I say that giving brings more joy than buying something for yourself. If you want to know how it feels, start giving.
4. v. 11 Blessing of Blessing. When we give cheerfully, people won’t see it as plain charity or mercy. They will see it as a blessing from God. And when they do, they won’t just thank us. They will thank God. Being a channel of blessing is a great privilege. The strongest form a Christian can take is the form of an answered prayer.
5. v. 13 Blessing of Testimony. The people who see the cheerful giver’s life will praise God after seeing that he/she practices what he/she preaches. A Christian who lives the Gospel is heard better than a Christian who speaks the Gospel.
6. v. 14 Blessing of Prayer. Cheerful givers are never alone. People include cheerful givers in their prayers. They recognize them, thank God for them, and pray for them. Money can be given halfheartedly, but prayers don’t work that way. Genuine prayer, the kind promised in this verse, comes from the heart. With prayer being the best weapon of a Christian, this reward is priceless.
If we weigh all these, the choice is easy. If you want to break the bank, give.
And that’s my two cents on that.