I want to break from routine and cover two subheadings today instead of just one. The reason is that these two sections belong together, in my opinion. We will look at Paul’s advance preparations for the gift that was promised and his exhortation about how to give.
Paul starts out by telling the Corinthian church that he is proud of their promised generosity. He is so proud of them that he has been bragging on them to some of the other churches. For some reason though he is concerned that they may not make good on their promise. I don’t know if it is because of the conflict they have recently undergone or if he is a natural worrier. He doesn’t want to look bad and he doesn’t want them to look bad either. So he sends an advance team to make sure all is ready when he gets there.
But wait! What if they have changed their minds? What if they can’t meet their original pledge? He doesn’t want them to feel compelled to give out of guilt. He isn’t sending the advance team to browbeat them but to encourage them. God wants them to give out of a willing heart, not out of compulsion.
There is no doubt that Paul wants this gift for the ministry to Jerusalem but he also wants the gift to be a blessing to the one giving it. He wants their gift to come from a willing and cheerful heart. He reminds them of why they can be so cheerful when they give to God.
“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” (verse 10). Paul reminds his readers that God is able to meet their needs, especially if they are busy meeting the needs of others in Christ out of their own means. When they give they will find out that God is making what remains even more fruitful and satisfying. He wants them to remember this when deciding to give. “If I hold onto what I have in fear it slips away from me and I have nothing left but my fears.” “If I hold lightly to what God has given me and willingly give back when the opportunity presents itself, I find that I have more than I need. So my choice should obviously be to give in confidence when presented with the opportunity.
Father God, on more than one occasion I have struggled to give. I KNOW You can make the left overs go farther that the full lump IF I turn it over to You. It is just hard for me to act on that knowledge at times. Another issue I have is knowing where and how much to give. With my limited life I don’t have a local church to give to. I believe You directed me to give where I am currently giving now. I want to make sure though that I’m listening to You on this issue and ready to follow Your lead if/when You want me to change directions.
Thank You Lord for listening to me tonight. Thank You for speaking to my spirit. Continue to pour out Your Spirit during our time together. Help me remember to give in ALL aspects of my life, not just financially. Thank You for the financial stability You have provided for my little family.