Paul’s Admonition to be Generous

This morning I read 2 Corinthians 9 during my morning devotions.  Paul devoted the entire chapter to encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous and to fulfill the commitment it had made to assist poorer Christians in Macedonia.  Paul had been bragging to other congregations of the generous gift the Corinthians had promised, and he wanted to insure that the gift would be ready when it was needed.

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As Paul continues through the chapter, he encourages them that God will bless them as they bless others and tells them that it is impossible to out-give God.  Although Paul is speaking specifically about being generous with our money, his words also apply to being generous with people in many other ways, such as love, service, time, attention, guidance, and forgiveness.  Paul says that our obedience in generosity will in enrich our lives and allow God to be even more generous with us, and it will cause people to give thanks and honor to God.

In the final verses of this chapter, Paul writes, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.  And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9: 12 – 15, The Message)

How can we not be generous when we read stirring words like these?  Generosity towards others blesses us more than it does the recipients and it brings honor and glory to God.

How has God blessed you after you demonstrated generosity?

Having a Generous Heart

Our motives are important to God. Giving grudgingly or by force is not viewed by God as generosity.  Generosity has to flow from a willingness to help others.  As we more fully grasp the depths of God’s love for us, our love for our fellow man should increase.

When the young lawyer asked Jesus what commandment was the greatest, Jesus replied, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. ”  Matthew 22: 38 – 40

Paul provided instructions to the Corinthians on how they should prepare gifts for those in need, “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.”  2 Corinthians 9:5 

If we truly love God, that love will overflow into love for people.  Thankfulness for the many blessing God has bestowed will manifest itself in sharing those blessings with others.

Jesus taught His disciples to give without expectations, “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. ” Luke 6:30 – 35

God supplies our needs and has extended generosity to each us through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross.  We, in turn, should be generous with those in need whom God puts in our path.

Ask God to open your eyes to see those around you who are in need.  Seek His guidance on how to share the blessings He has bestowed on you with others.  Be His hands extended.

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