17 December 2020
Topic: Giving

2 Corinthians 8:10-9:15 Practical Guidance for Giving

Speaker: Andy Yip


A few weeks ago, Andy Tan taught us about how not to be a rich fool and greedy from the gospel of Luke chapter 12. This week Paul will continue to teach us about our Christian attitude on giving, using the example of his collection for the church of Jerusalem.

At the time when Apostle Paul was writing this letter, the church in Jerusalem has faced heavy persecution, and the Christian brothers and sisters in Jerusalem are mostly living in poverty, and they were suffering. So Paul has asked the churches from other regions, like the church in Corinth to contribute. The church was initially eager to contribute to aid the Christians in Jerusalem, but because the troubles in the Corinthian church had extinguished their eagerness. So Paul encouraged them to complete their commitment. Their willingness to do it needed to be matched by their completion of it.


1) Generous contribution to Jerusalem would bring blessings

Paul had no particular amount in the mind of how much they should give, and he left it up to the Corinthians to give according to their means. This passage is not about money given to support the church; rather, it is about charity for the poor above and beyond support for the church. And Paul gives us four principles:

  1. Your willingness to give enthusiastically is more important than the amount you give;
  2. It would be best if you strived to fulfil your financial commitments.;
  3. If you give to others in need, they will, in turn, help you when you are in need;
  4. It would be best if you gave as a response to Christ, not for anything you can get out of it. How you give reflects your devotion to Christ.


In verse 12, Paul gives us a general principle about our offering to support those who are in need, he wrote, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” (2 Corinthians 8:12) By our conscience on how much we have and willing to give, it is acceptable giving in the name of Christ. Each person should give in proportion to what God has given us. “God gives to us so that we can give to others.”

The goal of this particular giving to the Jerusalem church is equality. In here, the Bible does mean to make all economic inequalities within the church to be eliminated. Still, the principle is to ensure that the basic needs of the poor were met. When the Corinthians have plenty, they supply the Jerusalem church who are in need, in turn, if the Jerusalem church has enough, and the Corinthians church is lacking, they will provide what the Corinthians church needs. Everyone should have enough to eat. That is the goal. As Paul quoted in verse 15, which is originated in Exodus 16:18, “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” Initially, this old testament quote is talking about when the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years, God gave them manna, bread from heaven every morning to sustain them. Those who gather much manna did not have too much, and those who gathered little did not have too little, everyone have enough to eat, no matter how much they gathered. No one is overabundance or in serious lacking. This miraculous provision of manna from God indicated God’s desire to meet the needs of all his people.

And the same principle applies to our Christian giving. This is consistent with the Old Testament teachings, where Moses instructed Israel to care for the poor. Hence, the church is to care for its poor through generous contributions.

For example, in Deuteronomy 24:12-15, the Scripture says, “If the neighbour is poor, do not go to sleep with their pledge in your possession. 13 Return their cloak by sunset so that your neighbour may sleep in it. Then they will thank you, and it will be regarded as a righteous act in the sight of the LORD your God. 14 Do not take advantage of a hired worker who is poor and needy, whether that worker is a fellow Israelite or a foreigner residing in one of your towns. 15 Pay them their wages each day before sunset, because they are poor and are counting on it. Otherwise they may cry to the LORD against you, and you will be guilty of sin.”

God wants us to be generous to support the needy.


2) Safety measure against mishandling of funds

Then in verse 16 onward, Paul mentioned that Titus was returning. The Corinthians church had a positive relationship with Titus. They received him well and honoured him as a servant of Paul. And Titus shared Paul’s love for the church and wanted nothing but the well-being of the believers there, with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative, Titus longed for the church in Corinth that he voluntarily made the journey to see them again. There is also another unnamed servant of the gospel was chosen by the churches to accompany Paul. And Paul has sent this church appointed and trustworthy brother in Christ to administer the offering to collect the money. Still, Paul only assisting and did not handle the money himself. As he explained in verse 20 to 21, “We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man”.

Paul explained that by travelling together, there could be no suspicion, and people would know that the gift was being handled honestly. And the church did not need to worry any misuse of the money from the Corinthians church. Paul and his company used every safeguard to maintain integrity in the collection of money for the Jerusalem church.

This is a very important safety measure against mishandling of funds for every minister. As God’s servants and preachers, we do not handle the collection of money like Apostle Paul but let someone trustworthy who is appointed by the church to do so. This is to safeguard of mishandling of funds. I have heard stories from Singapore where the preacher of a mega Pentecostal church has been misusing church money and got into trouble and jailed. Financial scandals among high-profile ministries have alerted the non-believing world to the unethical attention-grabber that some Christians use. It is possible to avoid mismanagement of God’s resources. As a faithful church of Christ, our church also needs this kind of system of checks and balances that prevent wrongful behaviour. When we are thinking of financial practices in the ministry, we need to keep in mind that any financial matter no matter it is giving or investment of church fund, they have to be reviewed by multiple trustful people. As Christians, we must have the highest standard of financial responsibility. In Paul’s case, the contributions are proof of the Corinthians church’s love and reason for his pride in them. Church members love God and love people when they contribute. So the person who is handling the giving has a very high responsibility. They must be accountable. They must take the highest approach above everyone else in terms of honesty and make sure the gifts are not being misused in order to honour Christ in handling church funds.


3) Service of contributions to the Churches

Then in chapter 9, Paul reaffirmed his confidence in the Corinthians’ eagerness to help. His boasting about the Corinthians had stirred the Macedonians to action and contributed to the gift to Jerusalem church in poverty. And he had sent messengers to make sure the collection was completed before he arrived. Otherwise, if the Corinthians were unprepared to make their contributions, then Paul would be ashamed of having been so confident in them, and the Corinthians would also have cause for shame. In this chapter, we see that Paul showed some practical concern for the encouragement of the churches in Corinth and Macedonia. Although he was confident of the Corinthians’ good intentions, he was not naïve. He took the precaution of sending messengers ahead to ensure that no one would miss the opportunity for a great blessing. He was holding them accountable to keep their promise so that neither Paul nor the Corinthians would be embarrassed.

When we promise to donate money to charity or Christian organisations, make sure that we are prepared beforehand, so that it does not look like we had to give under pressure at the last minutes. Keep our promises, be generous and be prepared are the advice from Paul in this letter.


4) Benefits come to those who give generously and result in praise of God

In terms of giving, sometimes people may hesitate to give generously to God because they worry about having enough money left over to meet their own needs. Paul assured the Corinthians that God was able to meet their needs. The person who gives only a little will receive only a little in return. Don’t let a lack of faith keep you from giving cheerfully and generously.

As Paul wrote in verse 6, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 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. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:6-8)

Just as farmers should not expect a large harvest unless they sow generously, so Christians should not expect many blessings from God unless they generously bless others. A giving attitude is more important than the amount given. The person who can provide only a small gift shouldn’t be embarrassed. God is concerned about how a person gives from his or her resources. According to that standard, the giving of the Macedonian churches would be challenging to match. God himself is a cheerful giver. Consider all that God has done for us. He even gives us his one and only Son Jesus to die for our sins. He is pleased when we who are created in his image to give generously and joyfully. Do you have a difficult time letting go of your money? It may reflect ungratefulness to God.

Also, although Paul encouraged the Corinthians to give, he did not want them to give beyond their means, and the exact amount was a matter of conscience. As in every ethical choice that Christian believers must make, there comes the point when the inward conviction of the Spirit must guide specific actions. Decisions of the heart must not violate the revelation of God. Still, they are necessary for practical application of the principles derived from the Scripture. And Paul’s advice in terms of giving give us a guideline on what we should do. Paul wanted the Corinthians to receive God’s blessings in response to their generosity, but this would not occur if they gave reluctantly or under compulsion because God loves a cheerful giver. God’s love extends to all who are in Christ, but he had in mind here a special affection or approval that leads to significant blessings in the life of the believer. Paul focused on God’s ability to bless, not his guarantee. God is able, but he is free to choose whom, how, when, and to what degree he will bless. There is a sense in which every Christian has received the grace of God in Christ, but here Paul thought of special mercy that comes to some and not to others. When God so chooses to bless, the result will be that in all things at all times, believers will receive all that they need, and will abound in every good work. God often gives believers the things they desire, but Paul did not have these blessings in view here. The Corinthians faced the challenge of giving generously, which could have threatened their livelihood. Paul made it clear that God was able to supply their needs.

Secondly, the goal of these divine supplies is not primarily the believer’s wealth or personal pleasure. God supplies so believers may abound in every good work. So they will be free from worry over necessities and may focus on fulfilling the commands of God.

To support his point that God can do all of these things, Paul recalled Psalm 112:9, “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” God will never forget or ignore a righteous man’s generosity and righteousness. And Paul used this quote from Psalm 112 to encourage the Corinthians to be generous so God would reward them.

Paul continues in verse 10 and 11, “Now 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. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.”  God gives us resources to use and invest for him. Paul uses the illustration of seed to explain that the resources God gives us are not to be hidden, foolishly devoured, or thrown away. Instead, they should be cultivated in order to produce more crops. When we invest what God has given us in his work, he will provide us with even more to give in his service.

Paul said the Corinthians could expect to be made rich in every way as they contributed to the poor in Jerusalem, what he says is not promising material blessings to those who give generously, but they will be enriched in every way like in their speaking and all their knowledge and did not lack any spiritual gift. God’s blessing is often spiritual, not just material. The riches of the Christian life before Christ’s return are primarily the blessings of the Holy Spirit. He is the down payment on the inheritance of riches we will receive when Christ returns. When the Holy Spirit is poured out on believers in dramatic ways, they are made rich in every way.

Those who are generous would be so blessed that they would be able to be generous on every occasion; they will be able to meet whatever needs they encountered with the rich ministry of the Spirit.

Paul also assured that the Corinthians church’s generosity would result in thanksgiving to God. Apostle Paul would praise God joyfully as he saw them fulfil their responsibility on what they promised to give. The service of contributing was not only for supplying the needs of God’s people but also for the overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God so that people would praise God through our actions. It will cause much worship and praises to God. And the goal is honouring God. It is also an act of obedience that would accompany our confession of the gospel of Christ.

Paul wanted us to be generous on every occasion. As he appealed to the Corinthians to give sacrificially to aid the Jerusalem congregation, he reminded them that God is the source of everything good. We are called to be generous because of the example of the Lord of life. A stingy Christian should be an extinct species. Generosity proves that a person’s heart has been cleansed of self-interest and filled with the servant Spirit of Jesus himself. That is why acts of generosity results in God being praised. As we look at ourselves, ask this question, Do your neighbours see generosity in your actions?

Paul ended his encouragement to the Corinthians on the matter of generosity, and he assured them that in the prayers of other churches, the hearts of those churches would go out to the Corinthians. Because of the surpassing grace that God had given them, many would pray and be encouraged by God’s work among the Corinthians that they would intercede on their behalf. How wonderful would it be to have many Christians throughout the world praying for the generous church? So in everything, thanks are to God. As God gives us the gift of salvation through Christ, we are joining other churches together in praise of God and pray for one another.

So let’s summarise what we have learnt today:

  1. Your willingness to give is more important than the amount you give.
  2. It is our duty as Christians to help other believers.
  3. If our charitable giving is uncompelled and cheerful, we will be rewarded spiritually.


And to apply it in our lives practically:

  1. We must take realistic steps to guard against the temptation to steal or mishandle church funds.
  2. We must take an active part in meeting the material needs of other believers and our neighbours in this world who in need.
  3. Christians should give generously and freely to bring honour to God with thanksgiving.


Remember, God loves a cheerful giver.

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