Tuesday, August 24, 2010

How to Give According to Grace Part 2

by S. Michael Durham

In our last article we shared two guidelines that God gave us through the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9. First, giving is required of all believers; and second, our giving is to be done regularly. In this article we want to explore an additional guideline: giving proportionately.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 16:2, “On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come.” All believers, rich and poor, are to give in proportion to their income. The difference now from the Old Covenant is that law does not determine what the percentage is for everyone. The Holy Spirit determines it for each person.

You cannot give what you do not have. Paul acknowledges this in 2 Corinthians 8:12: “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” Many of the poor looked upon what the rich could give and were tempted to think that their giving was meaningless. They could not give the amounts the wealthy could. Therefore, Paul says we are to give “according to what one has.” And that giving should be proportionate. In other words, a poor man can give as much as a wealthy man considering the percentage he gives in relation to what he keeps. In other words, the proportion is not a comparison of what you give to what someone else gives; it is a comparison of what you give to what you keep. The more the Lord prospers you, the more you can give. So your giving is based upon the degree of God’s giving to you.

The more good we receive the more good we can do. This is the proportionate giving Paul is teaching. The wonderful Bible commentator Matthew Henry shares as much in his commentary on verse two of 1 Corinthians 16.

They were to lay by as God had blessed them, in that proportion. The more they had, through God’s blessing, gained by their business or labour, their traffic or work, the more they were to lay by. Note, God expects that our beneficence to others should hold some proportion to his bounty to us. All we have is from God; the more he gives (circumstances being considered), the more he enables us to give, and the more he expects we should give, that we should give more than others who are less able, that we should give more than ourselves when we were less able. And, on the other hand, from him to whom God gives less he expects less.

Make it your resolve to give in proportion to what God gives you. The more He gives, the more you ought to give. You will discover God’s giving will increase as you give.

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