December 21, 2016
Paul discusses the issue of giving extensively in II Corinthians 8 and 9 extensively and in very clear terms. he starts by telling us that giving is a grace and an expression of our love for others. These are important words. Grace in this context implies that God grants us the ability to give freely. Love implies our giving is directed more at people than at things. Paul’s request for gifts was intended to meet the needs of the saints in Jerusalem not the Temple in Jerusalem. Paul never asks us to give to God, he asks us to give to people and people in turn will give thanks to God. God does not need our money, people do.
II Cor. 8:13-15 “For it is not that others may have ease, but you trouble; (14) but by equality in the present time; your abundance for their need, that their abundance also may be for your need; so that there may be equality; (15) as it is written, ‘He gathering much, he had nothing left over; and he gathering little did not have less.'”
What is the purpose of money? Why do we tend to accumulate money? We want some kind of personal financial security. We do not want to lack what we need in the future. That is the answer some will give. Others may not say it but somehow money gives them some sense of superiority. I think what God really gives us is wealth not money. Wealth slightly differs from money. Money is a way we have devised to measure wealth and it is not always a good metric. Wealth is the intellectual capacity, the inherited capital, the relationships we have and so on that are capable of attracting money to a person.
Some folks are blessed with greater intellectual capacity, bigger inheritances, more robust relationships with decision makers and so on that predispose them to more money. The Scripture’s position is that when we have such privileges we should balance things out by making sure those around us who are not so favoured also have such wealth can also have access to some money. It also implies that we who are blessed with intellectual capacity, positions of power or landed property capable of producing money owe it to the rest to actually put resources to work and create the wealth for others. Others are depending on us to act. Does that seem unfair? I do not think it is. Freely you have received, freely give.
II Cor. 9:6-9 “But I say this, He who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. (7) Each one, as he purposes in his heart, let him give; not of grief, or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver. (8) And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that in everything, always having all self-sufficiency, you may abound to every good work; (9) As it is written, ‘He scattered; he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.'”
God’s guarantee is that when we use wealth properly he will also give us what we need for our upkeep and more to support every good work on the earth. That is an amazing guarantee which is hinged on our willingness to give bountifully, from our hearts and based on what we have. This implies that our financial security depends on an economic system outside this planet. It is definitely a big leap of faith to live like this but so is trying to depend on salaries and businesses. We simply cannot accurately predict the future no matter how smart we are.
Mat 10:8 “Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. You have received freely, freely give.”
This scripture refers to spiritual gifts. The apostles had access to something that most people do not have access to. The Lord Jesus gave them certain spiritual abilities. He did say that these abilities were given to them freely. Freely implies many things: there was not assessment of their loyalty or their competence or their educational backgrounds. God simply chose them. We call it GRACE. One way the Lord Jesus expected them to show gratitude for this favour was to also give the gifts they had received to others FREELY: without analyzing competence or loyalty or any other qualifications. FREELY.
When we find that we have wealth in any form even forms which may not easily generate money such as TIME, Jesus also expects us to give such free gifts FREELY. Out time can be shared as much as our landed property. Both can generate money and both can be shared FREELY. Freely also implies sharing without holding back even in our hearts. Freely means not contemplating how the next supply will come or whether the recipient will be able to help us in our own time of need. Freely mean we simply let the gift go, like a bird. This is the balance that God expects in this temporary world.
Our wealth will have more meaning if we know how to use it. Our future will have more certainty if we pay attention to the One who knows the end from the beginning. We speak of what we KNOW.