25 Sep Cheerful Giving
God loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor.9.7, NIV) This is the source verse from which we derive the term, cheerful giving. The immediate question a good Bible reader ought to ask is, “giving – to whom?” Since this is not a question often asked, the exploiters of the Word use this verse to milk the last drop from the innocent devotee.
Paul starts building towards this verse from 7:6, when he talks about the joy, Titus’ return from the Corinthian church caused them. In
8:1, he introduces the Macedonian churches to the Corinth believers. Macedonia was the northern part of Greece, where churches like
The Philippi, The Thessalonicans and The Bereans existed. Corinth was part of Achaia, which was the southern part of Greece. It seems, the M a c e d o n i a n churches were extremely generous amidst severe poverty (verse 2). Paul points out something similar (Phil 4.15). Paul had just before coming to Macedonia, initiated a collection for the Lord’s people in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16.1-3). The Macedonian churches, pleaded Paul for the privilege of sharing in this service. The Corinthian church had earlier showed enthusiasm in giving for the same cause (2 Cor 8.11; 9.2). Paul is now urging them to do what they decided to do. Paul’s urge comes from the backdrop that though the Macedonian churches gave beyond their ability, in terms of actual value it would have been meagre, just as the widow with the two cents. The addition of the wealthier Corinthian churches would boost the offering that they are sending to Jerusalem by miles. It is in this context that Paul talks about God loving a cheerful giver.
What are the novel points that we realize from understanding the backdrop of Paul’s words? Giving for the sake of believers We understand that Paul is urging these Corinthian Christians to give for the sake of fellow believers in Jerusalem. While we often offer our tithes at churches or to evangelists and pastors, seldom we give for the sake of believers. It would surprise you if I tell that over 90% of all references that pertain to giving in the Bible are in the context of giving to fellow men. Giving to those in need 2 Cor. 8.14 points out that the plenty in the Corinthian church would meet the need in the other churches – NEED being the keyword. Remember how often we pour out all our offerings into the pockets of multi-million churches, which really do not need so much anymore. The issue becomes more severe, if we are overlooking a ministry in need to feed a ministry that is not in need. Giving is a changing decision
Have you noticed that Paul mentions that each man must give what he decided beforehand? Often, many people’s decision is staggered at the 10% mark, which we fondly call tithe. Yet, Paul in saying that a man ought to give cheerfully rather than proportionally suggests that the Christian giving is not limited by the 10% figure. Give cheerfully to your brothers in need; give cheerfully to ministries in need; give as much as your heart allows you to meet that needs.
About the Author
Pradeep works as an Insights Director at IMRB International in Chennai and involved in ministry since 1997. He blogs at http://thesprintingmind.blogspot.in/