The apostle Paul in his
Second Corinthians letter stresses the principal of
giving out of grace. Grace giving will revolutionize
your life. It has an amazing way of clarifying our
motives and principles of giving.
God has reached down and
saved us by His amazing grace. Grace is a beautiful
thing. It always emphasizes the beauty of the object
in view. It brings to others beauty, love and charm.
God in His matchless love reached down to us in our
sinning state and demonstrated that love by sending
His Son to die in our place on the cross. "We love
Him because He first loved us." It is in response to
this grace that we do everything as believers in
Jesus Christ. He has blessed us in His grace and out
of His grace we reach out and bless others.
The ministry of giving is
centered in the beautiful word grace. It is an
expression of that lovely sacrifice of Christ.
THE PRINCIPLE OF GRACE
The apostle Paul uses the
word for "grace" seven times in chapter eight where
he lays down this principle of giving out of grace
(cf. vv. 1, 4, 6, 7, 9, 16, 19).
An Example of Grace
Giving by Some Extremely Poor Christians
The churches in Macedonia
were going through extremely difficult economic
times. They were all in poverty. They were so deep
in abject poverty that Paul didn't even ask them to
give toward the offering for the poor saints in
Jerusalem who were being persecuted by the Jewish
religious leaders. He knew they couldn't afford it.
They embarrassed Paul by "begging" for the
opportunity to be a part of the project (8:1-4).
"For I testify that according to their ability, and
beyond their ability they gave of their own accord,
begging us with much entreaty for the favor of
participation in the support of the saints . . ."
They saw a great need and didn't want to be left
out. They were so moved by the Holy Spirit's
promptings they insisted on being a part of the
"support of the saints" in Jerusalem.
How did they do it? "They
first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the
will of God" (v. 5). That is always where
stewardship must begin. "They first gave themselves
unto the Lord." They had an intimate love
relationship with the Lord God. They loved Him from
the depths of their heart. When you fall in love
with the Lord Jesus you will give from the heart,
because He is first in everything. He owns it all
because He went to the cross and died for us. It is
out of love for Him that we give of our very best.
These Macedonians, Paul
says are an example to us of those who give by the
principle of grace. Out of their love for the Lord
they gave "according to their ability, and beyond
their ability they gave of their own accord." There
wasn't any put on. There was no show, and no
competition. No one applied any pressure to them. It
was giving out of poverty; it was giving without
pressure; it was giving that comes from a pure
heart. They gave because they first gave themselves
to the Lord.
If these Macedonian
believers are an example of extremely poor
Christians giving as the Lord enable them, then the
Lord Jesus Christ is an example of one who was
exceedingly rich who gave up everything so others
could be made rich.
An Example of Grace
Giving by One who was Exceedingly Rich
"You know the grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet
for your sake He became poor, that you through His
poverty might become rich" (v. 9).
Remember the Lord Jesus
Christ, as the pre-incarnate Word of God was rich,
rich in possession of the whole universe. He owned
it all. All He had to do was speak a word and it was
done. "By Him were all things created, that are in
heaven, and that are in earth, visible, and
invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or
principalities, or powers: all things were created
by Him and for Him: And He is before all things, and
by Him are all things consistent" (Colossians 1:16,
17). Angels bowed down and worshipped Him. He was
rich in honor, praise, glory and adoration. He was
rich in His Father's love for Him.
He chose to give up the
manifestation of His eternal glory, and take on all
the abject poverty of a slave. He became man. He was
God–man. Because of His humble obedience "we do not
have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our
weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all
things as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15).
Jesus did not empty Himself of His divine nature or
His attributes. It was a self–limitation of His
outward visible glory. He was still God in the
fullest sense. He took on a servant's role.
"Although He existed in the form of God, did not
regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but
emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant,
and being made in the likeness of men. And being
found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by
becoming obedient to the point of death, even death
on a cross" (Philippians 2:6–8). That is poverty!
Moreover, He did it
because He loves you. He did it so you could become
extremely rich! Paul had already told the
Corinthians, God "made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin
to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the
righteousness of God in Him" (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Rich! You are rich! You
are rich in His grace. He who was exceedingly rich
for your sake became extremely poor, that you
through His extreme poverty might become exceedingly
rich. Rich in His love, rich in a right relationship
with God, rich in the Holy Spirit, rich in promises,
rich in power.
Jesus Christ left
heaven's glory to become like us that He might make
us like Him.
Why? Why would He extend
such grace to those who are so unworthy? That is
what grace is all about. Grace is God's free,
divine, unmerited favor bestowed upon sinful and
undeserving individuals who could never merit a
right relationship with God. God in His mercy gives
us what we do not deserve. It is an act of pure love
on the part of God and emphasizes the helpless
abject spiritual poverty of man. It is always
undeserved, opposed to works and absolutely free.
When you are the
recipient of this kind of grace you cannot help but
respond in kind.
Don't miss what happened
in the heart of the Macedonian believers. God made
them exceedingly rich in His grace, not financially
rich. This is not "prosperity gospel" nonsense. This
is not some religious get rich scheme! God made them
rich in His grace. They had a right relationship
with God. They had an intimate love relationship
with Jesus Christ, and that made them exceedingly
rich spiritually. Out of that rich relationship with
God they made other people exceedingly rich in
return. They first gave their own hearts to the Lord
Jesus. It is beautiful. You put Christ first in
every area of your life and give financially as He
enables you and you will be enriched beyond measure.
God made them rich so they for the sake of others
could become poor again by making other people rich.
That is the principle of grace giving. We have
become rich; so that we too might become poor in
order to make other people rich.
This is exactly what we
have discovered in our miniseries on stewardship in
Second Corinthians. God owns it all. Since He owns
it all He can do whatever He wants to with it. Once
we come to terms with that basic principle then we
will be open to handling our finances God's way.
This is why the Macedonians would give beyond their
means. They gave sacrificially because God had first
given to them sacrificially.
Paul could challenge the
Corinthians in similar fashion because of the
majestic grace of God revealed in the person of His
Son Jesus Christ.
Do you know that joy?
THE PRACTICE OF GRACE
Paul reminded the
Corinthians that they made a pledge to give to the
Jerusalem missionary offering (vv. 10-11). A year
had now gone by and they had not fulfilled their
promise. They have been caught up in bickering and
fighting with one another. There were divisions
within the body. They were sidetracked with
dissensions, immorality, and drunkenness, quarreling
over spiritual gifts rather than keeping their eyes
on the Lord Jesus Christ. Carnal preoccupations kept
them from fulfilling their pledge to God.
He encouraged them to
give according to their ability, just as the
Macedonian churches did. In essence, Paul says, "The
standard is grace and love. Because I am altogether
His, then nothing I have is my own. I give according
to what I have."
Missions is the one area
we can never work ourselves out of a job. We owe
everything we possess in our spiritual life to
someone else. There are no self–made Christians.
Are making pledges wrong?
I doubt it. We live everyday on the principle of
pledges. Every time I turn on an electrical
appliance, pick up my telephone, or flush the
commode I am living my life based upon pledges. I
have pledged to pay the utility companies at the end
of every month. I drive my cars on the promise that
I will pay my car notes on time. I live in a house
in which I promise to pay my mortgage monthly. How
strange that some individuals think it is wrong if
we make a sincere promise from the heart to give to
God from what He has provided for us when we have
already made pledges to hard–hearted human
God is not interested in
what you don't have. He is only interested in our
giving from the heart as He provides. "For if the
readiness is present, it is acceptable according to
what a man has, not according to what he does not
have" (v. 12). God gives you an "abundance" to
supply their want. There might come a day when
"their abundance also may become a supply for your
want, that there may be equality" (v. 14).
The apostle Paul went on
to illustrate God's provisions by reminding them of
the manna in the wilderness (v. 15). The Israelites
went out every morning and gathered enough of the
manna for one day. If they got greedy and gathered
too much it spoiled on them overnight. That was the
way God planned it. He intended for them to help one
another. If a person was ill, or aged, those who
gathered more than they needed were to share with
others so no one was left out. God met the needs by
sharing with others out of their abundance. That is
the way He still works. God provides you with
opportunities to earn much so that you can reach out
in grace and help those who are in need.
In verses-16-24, the
apostle gives some very helpful guidance in the
handling of God's money. We employ these practices
in our church. Know who gets your money in the name
of religion. Know what happens to your gifts when
you give. This is why we constantly encourage you to
attend business meetings and be active in decision
making in your church. There is always a fully
itemized disclosure in every monthly business
When you give to mission
organizations and charities find out who get the
money and how it is used. Ask how much goes to the
administration of your gifts. Make sure the
organization is listed with the ECFA -- Evangelical
Council for Financial Accountability.
Paul admonished them to
take "precaution that no one should discredit us in
our administration of this generous gift; for we
have regard for what is honorable, not only in the
sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men"
(vv. 20-21). He encouraged "the messengers of the
churches" to take care of the missionary offering
In every church where I
have pastored I do not touch any money that is
received in Sunday School and worship services. I do
not know who the givers are, and I don't care to
know. Tellers count the money and deposit it in the
bank. The church treasurer uses strict accounting
procedures and writes all the checks. I do not write
checks on any church account. I am accountable to
the treasure and the church body. We insist on a
receipt for every item purchased with church money.
The same principles and rules apply to our ministry
through Abide in Christ. One day we give an account
to the Lord Jesus Christ.
The church budget is
discussed and voted on in a public business meeting,
which determines how the money is to be spent on
various expenses and mission programs of the church.
Paul encouraged the
churches. He says, "I am proud of you" in the
opening verses of chapter nine. "I know your
readiness, of which I boast about you to the
Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared
since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most
of them" (v. 2). He goes on, "I have sent the
brethren, that our boasting about you may not be
made empty in this case, that, as I was saying, you
may be prepared" (v. 3). Paul doesn't want them to
be ashamed when the men arrive to take the offering
to Jerusalem (v. 4). He calls the missionary
offering a "bountiful gift" in verse five. It is
bountiful, a gift freely given and spontaneous
bestowed. It constitutes a blessing to the recipient
because it is a generous gift.
Those kind of responses
will make any pastor's heart rejoice.
IT IS ALL IN THE
The apostle Paul gave us
another life principle in verse six. "He who sows
sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows
bountifully shall also rap bountifully." "Sparingly"
denotes what ought to be given. On the other hand,
"bountifully" in this verse indicates a gift freely
and spontaneously given and therefore a blessing to
There is a law in life
that says if you sow sparingly you will reap just
enough. If you sow bountifully, you will reap
bountifully. Whether you are farming or dealing with
relationships this principle is true. It is true in
life materially and spiritually.
Now with this principle
in mind, "Let us each one do just as he has purposed
in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion;
for God loves a cheerful giver" (v. 7). Go ahead and
do as you sensed God leading you. Since He has
blessed you bountifully go ahead and give as you
purposed in your heart to do. Follow through with
Don't do it "grudgingly."
The word means out of grief, sorrow, and pain of
mind or spirit. Don't do it as if it were killing
you. Don't give reluctantly as if you are grieving
over what you have lost in the process. "Oh man I
gave that ten dollars and I could have kept it and
rented a couple of movies, eat out or gone out on a
date. Why in the world did I do that?"
One of my deacons was
giving his testimony in church one morning. He said,
"If you feel like you are giving too much, and are
unhappy about giving so much, ask God to reduce your
Don't give "grudgingly or
under compulsion." Let it come from a heart that is
overflowing with God's wonderful grace and love.
It is all in your
attitude. "God loves a cheerful giver." The English
transliteration of the word for "cheerful" (hilaros)
is hilarious. God loves a hilarious giver (v. 7). He
desires our giving come from a heart that is
cheerful, joyous, prompt, ready to do anything. Is
there a readiness and a joy in your giving? Or is
there the attitude of an old gripe, grudgingly
holding on to every penny? But neither does God want
us to be like a drunken sailor who throws his money
away on drinks for everyone. He wants us to be
responsible givers who give out of a heart that is
overflowing with God's grace.
GOD'S PROMISE TO THE
GRACE GIVERS (9:8-15).
"God is able to make all
grace abound to you, that always having all
sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance
for every good deed; as it is written, 'He scattered
abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness
abides forever'" (vv. 8-9).
Who provides? God does.
How does He provide? Abundantly. He is "all
sufficient in everything." The believer by divine
grace is rendered self–sufficient and competent to
meet the demands made on his generosity. God
supplies out of His abundance to make every believer
all sufficient. He does it in order that "you may
have an abundance for every good deed."
We are back at that great
principle in 8:9. God makes us exceedingly rich so
we can make others rich.
Now if you are thinking
this is a scheme to make you financially rich for
your own self-interests, you are dead wrong. God
does not bless us to enrich our own selfishness. He
does it that His name will be glorified and that His
eternal purpose will be accomplished. God is not in
the modern American "prosperity gospel" movement.
Often, in His all sufficient wisdom He works just
the opposite to accomplish His purpose in our lives.
"Now he who supplies seed
to the sower and bread for food, will supply and
multiply your seed for sowing and increase the
harvest of your righteousness; you will be enriched
in everything for all liberality, which through us
is producing thanksgiving to God" (vv. 10-11). God
blesses us abundantly so we can bless others
Have you ever had the
privilege of giving and seeing God use that gift in
a most amazing way that produced thanksgiving to
God? Have you seen God take your gift when you have
given it from a generous heart and use it to touch
lives for all eternity? He wants our giving to be a
blessing, a means of producing thanksgiving to God.
"For the ministry of this service is not only fully
supplying the needs of the saints, but is also
overflowing through many thanksgivings to God" (v.
12). He takes your gift and uses it that His name
will be glorified repeatedly. People see your gift
and they offer up thanksgivings to God. Those who
are recipients praise God and pray for you. Your
gift keeps repeating itself in people's lives.
God makes us exceedingly
rich so we can become paupers again by making others
rich. The Lord owns it all; we are His stewards. May
the Lord bless you spiritually as He has blessed you