Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How to Give According to Grace Part 3

By S. Michael Durham

Grace giving is giving that is motivated and empowered by God’s grace. So far we have demonstrated that this New Covenant giving is commanded of every believer. We have also seen that it is to be practiced regularly and proportionately. Today, let us observe that grace giving is a giving that is generous. Paul commands Christians to give liberally.

Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which [you had] previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. (2 Corinthians 9:5)

Never think what is the least you can give. Think what is the most you can give away. This is the heart of Christian giving. But generosity is not determined by the amount given, but by other biblical criteria. Paul gives four conditions. First, give voluntarily. In 2 Corinthians 9:7 the apostle dictates, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” “As he purposes in his heart” means you give what you want to give. This is not some mystical formula where God tells you the exact amount you are to give. I do not say He doesn’t do that at times. But the Lord wants us to give because we want to give, not because it is our duty. The heart is to be engaged. Therefore, He lets you determine the amount most of the time.

Second condition, give without sadness. Again 2 Corinthians 9:7, “So let each one give . . . not grudgingly.” The words “not grudgingly” in the original language of the text means “not of grief." In other words, you should not give and then grieve as if you have lost something. You do not regret your giving. Your giving should never bring sadness.

Third, give unselfishly. Paul continues, “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not . . . of necessity.” In other words, necessity or duty giving is not grace enabled giving. Giving out of necessity is selfish giving. You are giving to benefit self. For example, you may give because you fear God will chasten you if you don’t give. Or, if you don’t give, you fear someone will find out and think you’re unspiritual. Another example of giving out of necessity is giving because you want to be blessed with more abundance.

This is why high pressure and gimmicks to get people to give are forbidden. It isn’t just TV evangelists who are guilty of using such tactics to raise more money. Many pastors do so every time they preach on tithing. They lay law upon their congregants to either bring guilt or reward to increase giving. Have you not heard it said that if you sow your ten percent you’ll reap a hundredfold? That is selfish and it is sinful.

Lastly, Paul says, give joyfully, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Our word hilarious comes from the Greek word translated cheerful. Giving is worship and worship is to be a joyful expression of God and His grace to us. Next week we will give the last command concerning how to give according to grace.

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