2 Corinthians 8 & 9 are radical texts that confront our traditional views on Christian giving. This is especially because NT giving is different from the OT system of assorted sacrifices, tithes and offerings,. Paul tells us in verse 5 of chapter 8 that the Macedonians had first given themselves to the Lord and then their gifts followed.
We live in a world where gifts are an easy form of manipulation. People give in order to receive (the whole panda mbegu philosophy, peddled around by prosperity gospel preachers rides on that). When a gift precedes a relationship, a few questions emerge – is this genuine love or manipulation? Is it an advance payment for an expected ‘blessing’ or an expression of gratitude for the gospel and hence a willingness to serve the Lord with our Time, Talents and Treasures?
Sadly, we bring these worldly views into our worship of God with our treasures. We use tithes and offerings as ‘check boxes’ of our godliness or as means to another end rather than an overflow of gratitude for our relationship with the Lord. When relationship (redemption) comes before the gift, then quantities and ‘labels’ [tithe, offering, first fruit etc] do not matter anymore. The gift can be everything (Acts 4:32ff) or almost nothing (2 Cor 8 2). It can be a tenth, a third, a half, everything or nothing.
Let me illustrate this. For two lovers, a straw of grass given will be treasured dearly just as a huge bouquet of roses. It is never about the size of the gift but a matter of the heart. Sadly, we can be tempted to go about our relationship with God by sending our gifts before our hearts. The Macedonian church teaches us otherwise. For God so loved that He gave…
You might want to evaluate your own generosity in light of this. Verse 9 is a helpful reason for all that Paul had said before…’For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ….’ this really is the basis of all our stewardship. I call it the ‘acid test’ of our giving/serving motives. If it is not done in light of the gospel, then perhaps it is not worship.
Excel in this grace of giving.