This week, we kick off a new series called “For the Love of Money”. That title comes from 1 Timothy 6.10, which says, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil”. For some people who have wandered away from God, money becomes an all consuming desire and goal, and brings them many griefs. However, the opposite is also true; people who handle money in a way that honors God experience some of the greatest joys. During the next two weeks, we’ll look at how to avoid grief and instead experience joy when it comes to our finances.
Question: What is your view of money? Do you usually view it as a grief or a joy? When has it caused you grief? When has it brought you joy?
- Read 2 Corinthians 9.1–10.1.
In this section of Scripture, Paul is writing to the Corinthian church, which had promised to support the church in Jerusalem that was struggling financially. He was encouraging them to be ready for when he visited to pick the gift up.
In examining this passage, the theme of generosity jumps out at us. Generosity is distinctly mentioned seven times, more than in any other place in the Bible. Perhaps one of the most encouraging parts of these verses is the promises that they give to generous people. We’ll examine five of these promises.
The first promise is seen in verse eight, where it says, “God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need…”. God promises that generous people will have all that they need. Proverbs 11.25 tells us “a generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.” While the Bible doesn’t promise that God will fulfill everything on a generous person’s wish list, it does promise that He sustain all that he or she needs.
Verse eight also contains our second promise; at the end of the verse, it explains that “you will abound in every good work”. Not only will generous people have all that they need, but they will also have the resources that they need to impact others. Verse 11 phrases it as “you will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous [on every occasion]”. One of the greatest joys in life is to use the resources that God’s provided to encourage others. We are blessed, not to create a more comfortable or showy life for ourselves, but to be a blessing to others.
Verse 14 talks about those who are on the receiving end of generosity. It says, “And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.” Our third promise is that generous people receive greater spiritual power and protection. Generosity often builds a connection between us and those outside of our normal social circle, and in doing so, often builds more spiritual connections. For example, because we have financially come alongside pastors and churches in Zambia and Central Asia, they in turn have covered us with their prayers.
We find our fourth promise in verse 10: “Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed.” Notice that this verse says God will supply and INCREASE our store. God doesn’t just replace what we’ve given but increases it. Thus, generous people are trusted with increasing resources.
When God sees that someone is using the resources that He’s given to increase their standard of giving rather than their standard of living, He knows that He can trust that person with even more. Jesus promises the same thing in the parable of the talents.
- Read Matthew 25.14–30 or Luke 19.12–28.
Just as the master in this parable entrusted more talents to his servants who invested well, so Jesus increases the resources of those who invest their original resources well. Budgets are a great way to not only know where your money is going but also to see how God has blessed your giving. They’re a wonderful testimony of God not only providing but also blessing our tithes and other giving.
Finally, verse eleven tells us that when a person is generous, he or she “will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanking God”. Generous people catalyze worship. When we give, our hearts and focus turn away from the gift and onto the Giver. Rather than stressing about how we’re going to make ends meet if we share what we’ve been given, we trust in the perfect provision of God and joyfully give what’s been given to us. More so, when we give out of faith, we point others to God. When they see us give out of faith and the impact of that giving, we testify to the character of God and bring Him glory. Thus, the biggest reason that God gives us money and resources isn’t for our own joy but for His glory.
Question: How has your giving been a testimony to God’s glory? How are you pointing others to God by the way that you use your money?
These five promises are highly motivating; we may look at these promises and long to live generously because we realize that we can’t afford not to be generous. We long to experience the joy of generosity and using our finances in a way that glorifies God, but how do we do that? Thankfully, in addition to offering the promises of generosity, our Scripture passage also offers some down to earth practices for it.
The first of these practices comes from verse six. Verse six tells us that “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously”. Generosity is fundamentally an act of sowing seed, and sowing seed is always an act of faith. We plant our finances believing that what we’re planting will produce something great. Thus, generous people are generous in faith. They trust that in giving their resources to God, He will bless them, and they trust that He will take their resources and increase them tenfold.
Question: How have you seen God multiply your giving when you’ve given in faith?
Verse five says, “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised.” The generosity of the Corinthian church wasn’t spontaneous or spur of the moment. Instead, they were intentional in their giving. Their generosity was purposed and planned for. From their example, we can learn that generous people are generous intentionally. Generosity goes beyond emotions; generous people don’t give only when their heart strings are pulled by some cause or when they feel like they have money to spare. Rather, Isaiah 32.8 tells us that “generous people plan to do what is generous, and they stand firm in their generosity”.
Question: How can you be intentionally generous this week? How can you build generosity into your normal budget?
Our third practice of generosity comes from verse seven, which states, “each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver”. We’ve stressed the promises that God gives to generous people because we don’t want people to give out of obligation. That’s not biblical giving. While generosity isn’t always easy, Christian givers give joyfully. Why? Verse 15 tells us: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” We give joyfully because we understand what God has done for us. We know of God’s spiritual provision for us in Christ. We give cheerfully because we’ve received the ultimate gift: Jesus’ willingness to die on the cross for us that we may receive forgiveness and new life.