This Sunday was the last in a 5 part series on the Christian perspective on work and wealth. We concluded by looking at 2 Corinthians 9:6-15. A few years back I attended a class called Perspectives on the World Christian Movement. One of the first lessons focused on Genesis 12:1-3 and how God chose to bless Abraham so that he and his descendants would be a blessing to the whole world. (It's a great class and I highly recommend it!)
In Christ we have been blessed by God's grace to become a child of God and we are called to share that wonderful blessing with the world around us. But another way that God blesses us is with financial resources. And when used with the principles we find in 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, our resources can be a blessing to others and bring glory to Christ.
In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul is writing to the Corinthian church regarding the collecting of funds for famine relief in Jerusalem. He is encouraging them that their generosity brings glory to God in three ways:
1) v.6,10 The principle of sowing and reaping: Paul uses a farming analogy in v.6 "whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." And in v.10 he reminds the church that in fact it is God who supplies the seed and causes the harvest.
If the Corinthian church can remember it is God who provides the seed and is able to enlarge the harvest, then why not be generous?
2) v.7-9, 11-12 You have been blessed: these verses are all about attitude and trust. They aren't to give grudgingly or sorrowfully for in v.7 Paul reminds them that "God loves a cheerful giver." They have been so blessed by Christ and they must be confident that God has the power to bless them abundantly so that they will have what they need so that they can help supply others needs.
Why doesn't God just help everyone directly? Why are we called to help others? I truly believe that as image bearers of God, we too have something within us that feels good when we are able to help others. And God wants us to experience the joy of giving!
3) v.11-15 The result of being a blessing: Paul tells the Corinthians that when they give, it is an act of worship. And as they serve/worship in this way, people will give thanks to God and their giving will be a living testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What better motive is there to be generous? Throughout this series we looked at some of the reasons we work. The good news of Christ is that we don't have to work to just accumulate money and things or be our only means of security. We don't need our work to define us and we don't need to derive our worth from it. Instead we can do good work (through the Spirit) because we work for a Good Worker (God the Father and the Son Jesus Christ). And in the compensation we receive for good work, we are free to be generous, trusting that God is the one who provides for us and gives us the opportunity to help others.
As members of Christ's body it is our responsibility to give to our local church but it is also our privilege to help meet the needs around us. Who or what organization may God be calling you to be more generous towards today?