Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15 | Listen to Message
Christians give, on average, 2-3% of their income to charity (their local church + all other missional and charitable causes combined). Whatever you believe about dollars and percentages, commands vs. principles, and grace vs. law, I hope you agree that this tepid, tightfisted level of giving is more indicative of “me-first” consumers than it is a reflection of the generosity and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Under the Old Testament Law, Jews were commanded to give tithes to the Lord, His work, and His people. Note that word “tithes.” It was plural. It was a compound gift that actually added up to something like 23% of a person’s gross income. Christians today are not under the ceremonial and civil law of ancient Israel – because Christ has fulfilled that Law for us. But it begs the question: If Old Covenant believers gave so much out of duty, how much more ought we as New Covenant believers be giving out of delight?
In 2 Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul writes to a Church about the subject of generosity. He does so without ever mentioning a “tithe” or a certain percent or amount a believer must give to the Lord. But what he does say is important for anyone who wants to take the subject of Christian giving seriously.
Here are 6 indispensable principles from that text for anyone who wants to understand and practice Gospel-driven generosity:
1. Mandate: Generosity is the responsibility of every Christian.
Generosity is not limited to those with the spiritual gift of giving, or to those with 6- or 7-figure incomes, or to those who have piles of cash lying around. It’s an imperative for everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ.
2. Mindset: Your heart of giving matters just as much as your act of giving.
If it’s painful for you to give sacrificially to the Lord’s work, something’s wrong. Reluctant, grudging, stingy, and anxious attitudes are all signs that you don’t really love and trust God the way you maybe think you do. God says He loves a cheerful giver – a giver who freely, willingly, spontaneously gives out of delight.
3. Metaphor: Giving to the Lord’s work is like sowing and reaping.
As consumers, we tend to think of the money we donate as the loss of something. But the Bible tells us to think like farmers. What you give for the Lord isn’t lost, it’s planted. And the more you plant, the more fruit you will one day reap.
4. Motivation: Christians freely give for Christ what they have freely received from Christ – and that gift, in turn, leads to a greater reward for the giver.
The single greatest motivation for Christian giving is the Gospel itself – the Good News of a free and crazy generous gift from God: He sent Jesus to live and die for our eternal salvation! How are you going to give in light of God’s indescribable gift of His own Son for you?
But there’s a secondary motivation here as well: God promises a greater reward to those who give a greater gift. This reward might be financial or material, or it might be any number of other things: increased faith, decreased anxiety, a single heart that’s disentangled from the love of money, or the gift of seeing other lives impacted and transformed through your generosity, for example.
5. Model: The limitless generosity of Jesus is the model for our own generosity.
Jesus didn’t consider limits to the dollar amount or the percentage he was willing to give for us and for our salvation. The only thing that dictated the generosity of Jesus was how much we needed. He was all in, even to the point of death on a Cross.
6. Mission: The ultimate goal of Christian generosity is seeing others glorify God and enjoy Him forever.
Believers often give “just because.” They have no real aim or purpose other than “it feels like the right thing to do.” But the Bible shows us we give in order to meet the needs of others in Jesus’ name so that they come to know, enjoy, and glorify God with us. What greater cause could we possibly give to than bringing others to see and savor Jesus Christ with us?