Study 5 TWELVE PRINCIPLES TO GUIDE OUR GIVING
BREAD ENOUGH AND TO SPARE
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portion: 2 Corinthians 8: 1-15)
In 2 Corinthians 8:7 Paul refers to five graces – faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness and love, and then he adds a sixth, described as “this grace of giving”. This passage is a guide to our giving; we should study this subject and see what God has to say about stewardship. His work today is often hindered through lack of funds; all over the world people are unreached simply because many of God’s people are undisciplined, careless and selfish with regard to the privilege and responsibility of giving to the Lord.
1. We must begin by giving ourselves to the Lord (verse 5)
The Macedonians gave generously but “they gave themselves first to the Lord”. In a sense our gifts are not acceptable to God unless we have first given ourselves to Him (Proverbs 15:8), and compare Romans 6:13; Romans 12:1.
2. Our giving to God must be through human channels (verse 5)
Notice the words “…to us…” We cannot literally place our gifts into His hand but we can give to His work; and where our giving is through the church or directly to the church, or directly to a mission agency, then we do in fact place our gift into the Lord’s hand. The Macedonians gave to Paul, and yet they were giving to God – look up Matthew 25:40.
3. Our giving should be according to the will of God (verse 5)
The implication is that we need to seek God’s will concerning our giving. Have you ever seriously done this? We also need to exercise discernment in our giving because we need to give to work that is 100% true to God and His Word. There are priorities in giving. We should by all means give to help to alleviate human suffering and distress, but as Christians there is a great deal of specific missionary work which should claim our first attention. Unbelievers support works of charity, but they do not support God’s work.
4. There is great joy in giving to the Lord (verse 2)
Surely we have proved this! See what the Lord Jesus said in Acts 20:35, and compare Luke 6:38. In 2 Chronicles 29:27 we are told that it was after the burnt offerings had been presented to the Lord “singing to the Lord began also”! Joy follows dedication and obedience.
5. Our giving should involve some real sacrifice (verse 2)
Although the Macedonians gave generously, notice that in fact they gave out of their poverty, reminding us of David’s great statement in 2 Samuel 24:24. Do we give at the point of sacrifice, or only give our “left-overs” after we have met all our needs and wants? Look up Mark 12:41-44.
6. We are to give willingly and ungrudgingly (verse 3)
Notice the words “…of themselves” (KJV); they were not pressed to give but were “cheerful givers” (2 Corinthians 9:7), out of love for God.
7. Our giving should be according to our means (verse 3)
“They gave as much as they were able”; our giving should be proportionate – that is, according to the amount we receive, as verse 12 states. We are to give, not out of what we have, but according to what we have. This is how God gives – not out of his riches, but “according to his glorious riches” (Philippians 4:19).
8. We are to give as a privilege and not merely as a duty (verse 8)
Christian giving is a duty, but this verse states that we are not under law but under grace. Paul could have made a very good cause for tithing, for the minimum the Jew was required to give was one-tenth of his income. Should we, under grace, give less than the Jew was required to give under the Law?
9. When we give we prove the sincerity of our love (verse 8)
God has proved His great love to us, not simply by words but by the gift of His own Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ – look up 2 Corinthians 9:15; and we prove our love to Him in the same way, by our giving.
10. When we give we enjoy true Christian fellowship (verse 4)
What fellowship there is when all unite to support God’s work and to further His cause! You may have only a small amount to give, and I may have only a small amount, but if we both give conscientiously and prayerfully, and if hundreds of others do the same, all our small amounts put together will make a lot!
11. Our giving should be systematic and methodical (verses 11 and 12)
Please read these verses carefully. The Lord does not want us to be undisciplined in our giving, or do it in a haphazard way. We are to decide what proportion of our income we will give to Him. Then we are to decide how the Lord would have us give, what the channel for our giving should be and which work we should support, so we must make it a matter of definite prayer.
12. We have a great motive for giving to the Lord (verse 9)
What constrains us to give at all? Surely in view of verse 9 our hearts are deeply moved and our pockets are touched. The measure of our appreciation of His Gift to us will determine the desire, the measure and the expression of our giving to Him. Look up and meditate upon 2 Corinthians 5:14-15.