Giving willingly: “a real gift”

Posted Nov 14, 2020

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Daily Scripture

2 Corinthians 9:5-7

5 This is why I thought it was necessary to encourage the brothers to go to you ahead of time and arrange in advance the generous gift you have already promised. I want it to be a real gift from you. I don’t want you to feel like you are being forced to give anything. 6 What I mean is this: the one who sows a small number of seeds will also reap a small crop, and the one who sows a generous amount of seeds will also reap a generous crop.

7 Everyone should give whatever they have decided in their heart. They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure. God loves a cheerful giver.

Reflection Questions

As Paul asked Christians in Corinth to give what they could to the offering for Christians in Jerusalem, his teaching echoed Proverbs 11:24-25, which said that spiritually (as much or more as materially) “Those who give generously receive more…. Generous persons will prosper.” He was more interested in the spirit in which people gave, though, than with the dollar (or drachma) amount raised. “God loves a cheerful giver” was not just an upbeat marketing slogan. It was a serious call to check why they gave. “They shouldn’t give with hesitation or because of pressure,” he said. Paul didn’t invent that idea. In Exodus 25:2, God told Moses about offerings to build the desert tabernacle, “Receive my gift offerings from everyone who freely wants to give.” That approach to giving recognized, as Pastor Hamilton wrote, that “we don’t really own anything. God owns it all. As the psalmist wrote, ‘The earth is the LORD’s, and all that is in it’ (Psalm 24:1).”*

  • You may recall that at times (e.g. Acts 15, Galatians 2:12) Christians from Jerusalem opposed Paul and his message. This made Paul’s generous desire to help them even more notable. Have you ever given reluctantly, out of peer pressure or other compulsion? What was that experience like? For what reasons would God want us to give from free, grateful hearts without coercion or pressure? Have you ever given that way? If so, how was that a different experience than giving under pressure? How would you explain why a thriving individual, family or congregation should care about helping those who are struggling?

Prayer

Lord Jesus, you gave, generously and extravagantly, just in coming to this earth as an infant, and living as our example and Savior. Let my commitment to make you Lord of my life keep growing my generosity. Amen.


* Adam Hamilton, Enough: Discovering Joy Through Simplicity and Generosity. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009, p. 79.

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Penny Ellwood

Penny Ellwood

Rev. Penny Ellwood is the Campus Pastor at Resurrection Blue Springs.

During the twelfth century, crusaders purchased the services of mercenaries to fight for them. Because it was a religious war, the Crusaders insisted that the mercenaries be baptized before fighting. As they were being baptized, the soldiers would take their swords and hold them up out of the water to symbolize that Jesus Christ was not in control of their swords, that they retained the freedom to use their weapons in any way they wished.

Sometimes we do the same sort of thing with our money. We hold our wallet or purse out of the water, saying, "God, I give you control of my entire life except in the area of money--I can handle that myself." And without us realizing it, this attitude hinders our relationship with God.

When we give God something that costs us, we point to the past, acknowledging that everything we have comes from him, and we declare our gratitude. But we also point toward the future. Giving up something we might depend on is a move of trust, evidence that we believe that God will provide exactly what we need. It is essentially an act of worship.

When we honor God with our gifts, we acknowledge that he has everything we need and has promised to take care of us. When we give something we might be depending on we show our love and trust that God will keep his promises. God knows our hearts. In reality, God needs nothing from us (Acts 17:25), but he is glorified when the Holy Spirit stirs our hearts to give to him, especially when it is done with a cheerful heart.

Don’t let money be the master of your life. Instead of raising your wallet or purse high above your head, hold it out with open hands. You’ll find yourself and others blessed by it.

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