But this I say, He that soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully. Let each man do according as he hath purposed in his heart: not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound unto you; that ye, having always all sufficiency in everything, may abound unto every good work: as it is written, He hath scattered abroad, he hath given to the poor; His righteousness abideth for ever.2 Corinthians 9:6-9 ASV
The importance of consecrated Christian giving is so great, that the following studies with reference to it are included.
GOD OWNS THE WORLD AND EVERYTHING IN IT
Underlying the entire structure of the word of God is a ledge-rock principle of divine ownership.
God owns the earth, by right of creation; and when man was introduced, he appeared, not as an owner, but as a gardener in Eden.
Every beast of the forest, every bird of the mountains, and every beast of the field, even “the world and its fullness” belong to God (Psalms 50:10-12).
Title deeds and legal grants always have regard to social custom, not divine authority. No man “owns” any of the earth; it belongs to God by the dual right of creation and constant maintenance.
ARE THEMSELVES THE PROPERTY OF GOD
Paul had warned these Corinthians already that they were not their own, having been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).
People are called God’s “own servants … his goods” (Matthew 25:14; Luke 19:13).
Paul loved to speak of himself as the “bondslave” of Christ (Romans 1:1); and, in light of the life he lived, it was no pious pretense.
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able to offer so willingly after this sort, for all things come of thee; and of thine own have we given thee. (1 Chronicles 29:14)
ALL PEOPLE ARE ACCOUNTABLE TO GOD AS STEWARDS OF HIS WEALTH
In very much the same sense that Joseph was the slave of Potiphar yet had control of all of Potiphar’s possessions, the Christian is the slave of Christ and answerable to the Master for his handling of the Lord’s goods, a day of reckoning being clearly revealed in the New Testament.
“And after a long time, the Lord of those servants cometh and reckoned with them” (Matthew 25:19).
The solution will be not in the decision of what to give to the work of the Lord, but in the decision of how much of the Lord’s own possessions should be diverted to the selfish ends of the steward.
THE PROPER MOTIVATION IN GIVING IS DETERMINATIVE
The great gift of Ananias and Sapphira was rejected because it was motivated by selfishness; and the gift of the widow’s mites, though exceedingly small, was praised by Jesus because of her true devotion.
God will judge the hearts of people.
It is obvious that impure and unworthy motives in giving cause the loss to the giver of any divine approval.
Any motive that is based upon pride, vain glory or selfishness is wrong and should be put far away from every Christian.
The incentives that should impel people to give are revealed in God’s word; and among those which are high and holy are the following:
GOD HIMSELF IS A MOTIVE
The Father in heaven is the first and greatest of motives. He so loved the world that “he gave” (John 3:16), and for one to be like the great King of heaven and earth, he should give.
Let people teach their hearts to give; and, if they do this, their hands will not need teaching. God has proposed to win back to himself a big, lost and sinful world, putting all of the resources of heaven itself into the effort.
Yet, despite all that has been done through many thousands of years, entire nations lie in rebellion and darkness; millions know not his mercy; the blessed Father needs our help; and what a privilege it is to help God himself by giving toward the realization of the Creator’s plans.
CHRIST IS A MOTIVE
It was to this that Paul appealed in 2 Corinthians 9:15, below, “Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift.”
Illustration: At a slave-auction long ago, the tears of a slave-girl arrested the attention of a traveler, her obvious agony being so unlike the indifference of the rest who were being sold. He paid a great price for her redemption, yet no joy came to her face when told that she was free.
She had been born a slave and did not know what it meant; but at last, when the traveler was ready to depart, and as he told her what she must do after he was gone, it finally dawned in her heart what had happened; and, with her first breath, she said, “I will follow him! I will serve him all the days of my life!” Despite every reason against it, that is exactly what she did.
Ever afterward, when her unselfish service drew the remarks of people who noticed it, she had only one word of response: “He redeemed me; he redeemed me!”
Should it be any different for us who have been redeemed with the precious blood of Christ?
May that attitude perish which views participation in the body of Christ as merely a kind of insurance against all of the hereafter, for which a premium, the lowest possible, is paid.
May we serve Jesus Christ as sinners bought with blood should serve him; and, when people notice the joy of our service, our pure happiness, and our free and liberal giving, let the answer ring out, “He redeemed me!”
THE CHURCH OF CHRIST IS A MOTIVE
The church is truly the bride of Christ (Revelation 21:9), the spiritual body of the Redeemer himself (Ephesians 1:22,23); and what is done to the church is done to Christ.
So also does the man who spends all that he can get his hands upon for his own selfish indulgements and then casts some trifling gift into the treasury of the Lord.
How beautiful was Jesus’ entrusting the care of his beloved mother to the apostle John; but the care of his bride the church has been entrusted to us!
The needs of the church the body of Christ are a basic motivation for giving that is truly Christian.
THE WORLD IS ANOTHER MOTIVE
There are four thousand millions of reasons why people should give liberally to God’s work.
Let people give so that broken hearts can be healed by the love of Jesus and quickened with the gospel of salvation. Unloose the strings, therefore, not of the purse, but of the heart.
When Jesus saw the multitudes, “He had compassion on them.” That same compassion inspires the Christian giver.
I MYSELF AM A MOTIVE
Back in 2 Corinthians 8:14, Paul warned the Corinthians that there could come a time when their “want” might require the generous help of others; and every Christian should take this possibility seriously.
Then, may those who are able to do so build the sacred walls of the church a little higher by their faithfulness and liberality.
Illustration: A funeral for a ragged old man who sought refuge from bitter weather in an old wagon yard one dark night and died of neglect before day dawned.
It turned out that he had once been prosperous and a nominal Christian who gave nothing to the church IN THAT VERY CITY.
In his hour of need, a false pride refused to utter the plea that would have saved his life; and his neglect of the church became at last the neglect of himself.
Contrast that with the case of David, who in the hour of his extremity, was handed the sword of Goliath, which long previously his own hands had deposited in the temple.
It is no wonder, then, that a son of David said, “Cast thy bread upon the waters, for thou shalt find it after many days!”
GIFTS TO CHRIST ARE SAVED – ALL ELSE IS LOST
Earth has no safe deposit boxes; “Moth … rust … thieves, etc.” corrupt and corrode all human treasures, as the Saviour warned (Matthew 6:19,20).
This is particularly true of what is given to Christ, that is, to his church.
People need to be reminded that giving to the church is giving to Christ.
The glory and praise of men can be received by giving to other things, but the New Testament commands people to “give glory to God in the church” (Ephesians 3:21).
Some who give vast sums to and social organizations and to political and fraternal orders, while neglecting the church, should lay this to heart.
PARTNERSHIP WITH GOD – A MOTIVE
“Enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21) was the accolade given by Jesus to the faithful steward; or, as Goodspeed translated it, “Come, share your Master’s enjoyment.”
Is not this a partnership with the Lord?
God gave many marvelous opportunities to angels, who kept watch over the cradle of the infant Jesus, who helped the Lord in the wilderness of temptation, who supported him in Gethsemane, who rolled the stone from his grave, who escorted him to glory to receive the kingdom from the Father; but to mortal man, like ourselves, God reserved the priceless opportunity of becoming his partners!
PEOPLE LOVE CHEERFUL GIVERS
In this very verse, Paul made the fact of God’s loving a cheerful giver a means of motivating the Corinthians.
Well, that is no mystery. People do too!
There is no more certain way into the hearts of people than by the practice of a sincere and honest liberality.
Stinginess is universally despised; and it was no accident that the ancient drawings of the fabled King Midas always decorated him with ass’s ears! He was justly hated for his selfish greed.
This is a worthy motive for giving, because it is certainly a mark of the highest character when one desires the love of people.
However, it is the love of men, not their praises, which is the true motive.
“GOD LOVES A CHEERFUL GIVER.”
Has there ever been a human being who could decide that he does not wish to be loved of God?
For any thoughtful person, this must be the greatest motive of all.
That the eternal and omnipotent God should love a mortal man is a concept so wonderful that it surpasses the powers of human imagination to understand it; but here Paul bluntly stated it.
No human liberality, therefore, could be too great; for the love of God to man is beyond any comparison with the feeble and insufficient means of any man, or of all people, to merit it.
But this glorious promise!
Who is there who can fail to find a mighty inspiration in it?
If God loves a man, no matter how much he gives, God will not let him suffer for doing so.
When God loves a person, the special providence of the Almighty will follow him all the days of his earthly pilgrimage.