What Should Characterize Our Giving?

Collection plate

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).

Periodically, it is good for us to evaluate what we do in our service to God in order to make sure we are doing what we should do with the right attitude to the best of our abilities. In this article, we are going to look at one aspect of our service to God – our giving on the first day of the week. This is not about examining the total amount that is contributed by everyone assembled in a congregation; rather, it is about individually examining ourselves by the standard of God’s word.

With this in mind, let us use the New Testament to help us consider the following question: What should characterize our giving?

We Should Give Bountifully

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).

In his letter to Corinth, Paul spoke of “the liberality of [their] contribution” (2 Corinthians 9:13). This is about giving in abundance. However, giving bountifully is more than just giving a large amount. Jesus indicated that the widow who gave “two small copper coins…put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned” (Mark 12:41-44). Therefore, giving bountifully can mean giving a large amount; but it does not necessarily mean that.

Paul mentioned the principle of sowing and reaping. We give of our blessings in order to multiply blessings – if we sow bountifully we will reap bountifully. However, this is not the “health and wealth” gospel that some false teachers promote. Instead, Paul’s point was that the more we give, the more work can be done. The more that we give, the more funds are available to engage in benevolence (2 Corinthians 9:1-12), evangelism (2 Corinthians 11:8), and every work the church is authorized to do.

We Should Give Purposefully

Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

This emphasizes the fact that it is our choice as to what we will give. There is no specified amount set forth in the New Testament, unlike the Old Testament tithe (Deuteronomy 14:22) which was a tenth (Leviticus 27:30, 32). With regard to the amount, our giving is more akin to the freewill offerings (Deuteronomy 23:21-23). Under the law, if they chose to give in this manner, they had to do just as they vowed; but if they did not vow, no sin was committed.

Of course, this does not mean we are free to choose not to give. Paul wrote, “On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2). Each one was to do this, but they were to do so freely according to what they purposed.

We Should Give Cheerfully

Each one must do…not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7).

Yes, giving is a requirement (1 Corinthians 16:2); but we are not to give “grudgingly or under compulsion” (2 Corinthians 9:7). In other words, when we give on the first day of the week, it should not be something we do only because we are told to give.

We need to recognize the great privilege it is to take part in the collection. Paul described the Macedonians as “begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4). When we give, we are joining in “fellowship” (2 Corinthians 8:4, KJV) as “fellow workers” (3 John 8) with others.

We Should Give Gratefully

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (2 Corinthians 9:8).

We must give with the understanding that God richly blesses us. James wrote, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation of shifting shadow” (James 1:17). We should always be thankful for what He provides (Ephesians 5:20).

If we understand that God “richly supplies us with all things to enjoy,” we can then be “rich in good works” (1 Timothy 6:17-18). Giving is one of these good works (1 Corinthians 16:2).

We Should Give Sacrificially

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

In a discussion about giving, Paul cited the example of Jesus – the One who left heaven, took the form of a servant, and died on the cross (Philippians 2:5-8). We are to follow His example. The Macedonians gave in this way – giving “beyond their ability” because “they first gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). The poor widow we noticed earlier is another example of this kind of sacrificial giving (Mark 12:41-44).

However, we need to understand that giving sacrificially does not mean giving recklessly. We still have a divinely-given obligation to “provide for [our] own” (1 Timothy 5:8). Jesus made it clear that dedicating money to the Lord did not relieve one of this responsibility (Matthew 15:4-6). Therefore, we should not give to the point that we cannot fulfill other God-given responsibilities; but what we give should be an amount that we could legitimately use for something else, thus making it a sacrifice.

We Should Give Lovingly

Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you” (2 Corinthians 8:24).

Paul encouraged these brethren to give in order to prove their love. In his first letter to Corinth, he wrote, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1 Corinthians 16:14). Our giving is a part of this.

Remember the purpose of giving is to fund the work of the church – evangelism, edification, and benevolence.* Each of these is rooted in love – love for the lost, love for our brethren, and love for the needy. Therefore, love will influence our giving.

We Should Give Consistently

On the first day of every week each one of you is to put aside and save, as he may prosper, so that no collections be made when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:2).

Paul said this was to be done “on the first day of every week.” Some believe that we should wait to give until there is a need. Of course, when it comes to the work of the church, there may not always be benevolent needs to be met; but there is always the need for evangelism and edification. Regardless of this, Paul specifically said we are not to wait and take up special, intermittent collections; we are to give “every” first day of the week so the funds are ready when they need to be used.

As we give consistently (every first day of the week), we are constantly mindful of God’s blessings and our responsibility to work. We can give regularly because God blesses us regularly (cf. James 1:17; 1 Timothy 6:17-18). We can also give regularly when we are working to provide for ourselves (cf. Acts 20:35; Ephesians 4:28).

Conclusion

The goal of this article is not necessarily to cause the total contribution of the readers’ home congregations to increase. Application of these principles may or may not cause that to happen. Instead, the goal is to provoke each one of us to consider how we are giving.

Are we giving bountifully, purposefully, cheerfully, gratefully, sacrificially, lovingly, and consistently? We cannot judge one another on this, but we do need to examine ourselves and evaluate our giving according to what the Scriptures teach.

*For more on this topic, refer to this article: “Now Concerning the Collection” (Part 3): Use of the Treasury


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