Chapter 8:8-15 (ESV) - I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
Question to consider: What is your opinion about giving to the church?
In addressing the generosity of the Corinthians (or lack thereof), Paul emphasizes that he is not making a law out of giving. Instead he is holding the issue up to them like a mirror which shows them where they are at in their love for the saints.
The offering of the tithe (a tenth of their income) was a command in the Law of Moses. God rebuked Israel in the Book of Malachi for not bringing their tithe and for offering blemished animals for sacrifice. It was just one of the many aspects of the law which showed the need for Christ. Now that Christ has come, we are not bound by the law. We give what is in our heart to give. However, if it is in our heart to give sparingly, we need to stop and question whether our love for Christ is genuine.
Paul pointed out to the Corinthians that Christ was infinitely rich, and yet for our sake, He emptied Himself of everything to become a poor carpenter from Nazareth. And yet, the Corinthians, who started out generous when they came to faith, were now waning in that generosity. Paul was not even asking them to be like the Macedonians who gave sacrificially. He was asking for them to give out of their surplus so that nobody would lack what they needed.
Christian stewardship has been tainted in the church today. There have been far too many who have promoted the false gospel of prosperity. They proclaim that by giving you are sowing a seed in their ministry that will produce prosperity in your life. This is rooted in greed and used to supply the televangelist with private jets and palatial estates while it bleeds dry those who are giving out of desperation. Don’t let this corrupt you!
Find churches and ministries that preach the true gospel message and faithfully serve the Lord. Use your gifts and abilities to joyfully participate in these churches and ministries. If you do not have a generous attitude, explore the reasons for it. Are we investing in things that are perishing? Do we not trust the church in which we belong? Are we trying to manipulate the church? Do we lack love for those who need to hear the gospel? Do we lack faith in the sovereignty of God? The goal is not to give in order to “prove” to others how much we love God. The goal is to examine our hearts, confess sin where necessary and ask the Lord to bring us joy in serving Him.
Dear heavenly father, we love You and thank You for everything You have given us. Help us to find contentment in the life You have given us and stir up in us a joy to participate in Your kingdom as ambassadors to the world. Please help us find churches that are faithful stewards or be willing to confront our church if it is not. Amen.