This post is part of a devotional series based on our 2020 Bible Reading Calendar.
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart–not reluctantly or out of compulsion, since God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work. ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
Second Corinthians 8&9 are back to back chapters encouraging generosity. At the time that Paul wrote, Corinth was a relatively wealthy city, unaffected by many of the hardships other communities faced. Yet, something had been lacking in their generosity, so Paul felt the need to encourage them to do more to give to the needs of others.
He presented various churches in Macedonia as an example to them in chapter 8. They had faced a “severe trial” that led to “extreme poverty” (8:2), yet they had begged Paul to use their resources to help those who were in even greater need (8:4). With a greater abundance of resources, Paul urged the church at Corinth to follow the example of these other churches.
Yet, Paul did not want guilt to be the motive behind their giving. After the example offered in chapter 8, Paul moved to motivation in chapter 9, and as a primary focus he chose joy and the grace of God.
God’s grace, after all, is his great generosity to us. Grace is goodness and kindness offered to us that we cannot earn or work for. In Ephesians 1, Paul wrote about how God lavished us with grace, speaking of our salvation in Jesus. Due to our rebellious nature against God, all we deserve is his judgement and wrath. Yet, when God offers us Jesus to cover our rebellion and give us salvation, he doesn’t offer us a place in his kingdom as servants with minimal provision. No, he offers us a place as his beloved sons and daughters who rule alongside Jesus, the King of kings, as fellow kings and queens over eternity.
God, in his grace, gives us abundantly more than we could imagine. And while we will not come into the fullness of our inheritance until we enter into eternity with the resurrected life, God offers us hints of these resources today.
One of the reasons that God gives his goodness and provisions to us is so we can then turn and give goodness and provision to others. God’s grace motivates generosity.
But God’s grace also produces joy in our lives. Jesus is the source of all life and joy, and to know him is to find happiness beyond present circumstances. So, Paul wrote, we should not feel forced to give, but we should give out of joy.
This is why Paul did not tell the church at Corinth to give a set percentage or dollar amount. He wanted them to go to God in prayer, pondering the joy they had in Christ, and dwelling on the great grace that God gives. And then, he wanted them to decide how much to give.
God calls us to be generous toward others. How do you decide how generous to be? Let grace and joy motivate you. Go to God in prayer, reflect on the joy of salvation, and meditate on the lavish grace of God. Then decide how much to give.
All Scripture quotations taken from the Christian Standard Bible.