The Ministry of Generosity Part 4: Principles of Generosity
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
We come now to the last part of our series about the ministry of generosity. In this chapter, we will be tackling verses 6-15 of chapter 9 which will tell us about the underlying principles of generosity.
Before that, verses 1-5 of chapter 9 tells us about the reiteration of Paul concerning his desire to send the Titus along with the other two brothers to collect what has been agreed upon to help other churches who are in need.
As Paul boasted to the Macedonian churches concerning the generosity that was first exemplified by the Corinthian churches, Paul desires to put to affect what has been started by the Corinthian churches. Furthermore, Paul wants them to be ready to give in case that the Apostles come with the Macedonians so that it will not be shameful on the part their part for having such great confidence. As Paul continuously admonish the Corinthians to give, Paul gave some principles concerning generosity.
Principle No.1: Who ever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.
During the time of Jesus and the apostles, it is very common for the teachers to use “agricultural examples” just like how Jesus claim that he is the vine and we are his disciples are the branches, so as the faith to a mustard seed. Similarly, Paul expressed generosity as sowing and reaping.
The Greek word used for sparingly also means stingily. All farmer desires to sow in a vast land because more land to sow, means more land to harvest. If a farmer sows in a small piece of land will only reap a small harvest. Likewise, a farmer who sows in huge farmland will reap a good bountiful harvest.
Usually, the farmer prepares the seeds that he will be sowing, more seeds, more harvest to come.
Now let us combine these two ideas and put it on spiritual terms to see what Paul really means. The land that we have is the ministerial work of Christ. The main difference with the literal farmer and Christians as a spiritual farmer is that, a literal farmer usually has a limited land area to farm, while the spiritual farmers have huge, vast land.
Secondly, a literal farmer has a limited number of seed to sow while a spiritual farmer has unlimited number of seed to sow which we will be learning later why it is unlimited.
This principle simply tells us that we have to sow more. We have a huge land, with plenty of seeds. And therefore, sowing out of the abundance of great joy is simply up to us. It is a choice.
Principle No.2: God loves a cheerful giver.
As a result of principle no. 1, it is easier therefore to be liberally generous. It is easier to become cheerful in giving.
According to the purpose of the heart means giving should be voluntary. It should not be out of the extortion of others nor urgent necessity. Generosity should be coming from the heart, completely voluntary driven by cheerfulness that one offered something to God.
Not reluctantly, the Greek word used was “lupe” which means sad, with sadness, with grief. There are people that find it easy to give a tithe of their small income. But when we start to have a bountiful income, we also start to become reluctant to give our tithes and to give an offering. Again, this is because most people are very concern on the “how much” to give.
Not out of necessity. Giving should be done cheerfully. There are times that we just feel compelled to do it. There were times that it is just out of compulsion that we gave. There are times that it is just of shame because all other people gave much and we don’t. But this is not what God wants us to learn. He wants us to learn how to give cheerfully. As Paul said, God loves a cheerful giver.
Our motives and our giving should start from the heart. It should be coming from our desire to worship God. Who among us loves to receive a gift from a grudging heart? If we don’t want it, God does not also accept gifts which are from a grudging heart. Cheerful giving is sometimes hard to learn especially if we feel like losing a huge part of our wealth.
Verse 8 shows that we are not actually losing anything. “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all the sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” It is God who enable the grace abound towards us which we always have all the sufficiency in all things. Therefore, we lack nothing and we lose nothing in giving. God makes all things sufficient in us so that the same blessings may about to every good work.
Principle No.3: He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.
For the clarification of what we left in principle no. 2, principle no. 3 says that the one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, is the same person that will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. This tell us that all we really have to do is to sow. It is not us who provides that seeds, it is God. It is not us who provides bread to eat, it is God. It is not us who will take care of those seed that we sow, it is God. It is not us who will enlarge the harvest of righteousness, it is God.
Therefore, there is no reason why not sow. We don’t own the seeds to sow, yet we act like one. We are trying to hoard the seeds that need to be sown. And worst thing is, we even try to eat the seed that has to be sown. Please note here that aside from the bread for food that God has supplied us, he also supplied us with the seeds to be sown. But sometimes we want them all due to our greediness.
This is what our passage says to those who sow, “He (according to the first part of the verse) will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” What then will God increase, if we did not sow the seed and rather ate it? Now sometimes, we wonder why in the world we lack many things. The passage is indeed clear, it is because we did not sow what is supposed to be sown.
Verse 11 gave us a promise: “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” We are made rich in every way. The Greek passage is to become wealthy, and not to keep that wealth for our own selves, but for us to be generous. The original Scripture did not mentioned “on every occasion”, but it simply says, we are made wealthy so that we can be generous. To which we can strongly conclude that our wealth is not meant to be kept with greediness for ourselves, but for us to share it with others. For us to be a blessing to others.
Principle No.4: Generosity is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
“This service to the saints…” as we have mentioned, there are four areas that was mentioned in the Bible where the tithes and offerings go: sin/thanksgiving offering to God, for the food of the Levites and priests, for the expenses of the Church which includes missions, and for supplying the needs of the needy brethren. In one way or another, the act of giving is actually a service to the people of God and in our passage it is a form of supplying the needs of God’s people. Generosity is not only a service, but an expression of “thanks to God” (v.12).
Such service and thanksgiving to God also produces several things:
- Other men will praise God (v.13). Usually, when we give generously especially to the needy brethren, many of them become speechless and all they say afterwards is “Thank you God for sending an angel.” This is why God wants us to learn giving generously so that more people can come and praise God for his provision.
- Obedience accompanied by confession of the gospel of Christ (v.13). As we do the ministry of generosity, it gives us the opportunity to obey God as it also affirms our faith to God that he supplies all our needs thus, authenticating our confession of the gospel of Christ.
- Other people will pray for us (v.14). There are more people who pray for those who practice generosity not because people are greedy and they want more monetary help, but because of the kind of gift that God has given to generous people. Just a simple example, we as a church usually prays for our partners in the ministry. And most of these partners are the one who practice generosity. What do we usually pray for our ministry partners? We usually pray to God that God will continuously enrich them so that in every way, they can be generous.
What do we usually pray for those who do not practice generosity? We pray that God will touch their heart to practice generosity, so that they can be blessing to others. And sometimes we even pray that God will forgive them for not cheerfully giving.
This simply shows that we have totally different prayers with those who practice generosity and with those who are not. And therefore we should not wonder why God blesses those who give cheerfully.
God provided for everything. He provided both the seeds to be sown and the bread for food. And there is really no need for us to neither be stingy nor reluctantly give our offerings to God. It is a simple practice of sowing and reaping. The more we sow, the more we reap.
Furthermore, if we ever give, it has to be cheerfully, not reluctantly or under compulsion. For generosity is a form of expression of our thanksgiving to God.