Today begins the first of two chapters dedicated to the matter of giving to the Lord of our financial blessings. Many religious institutions continue to teach and practice the Old Testament law of tithing, but nowhere in the pages of the New Testament do we find Christians commanded to tithe. However, we will note some principles of giving that are found in 2 Corinthians 8-9.
Paul begins this discourse by praising the churches in Macedonia for their giving. He first identifies their giving as being marked by liberality (v 2). But more than that, he says they gave “beyond their ability” (v 3). Paul credits their sacrificial liberality to “the grace of God” bestowed upon them.
But there is more here than just a fantastic contribution. There is also the personal investment that must precede such. Paul continues by noting that such was possible because “they first gave themselves to the Lord” (v 5). As the Macedonians were “freely willing” in their giving (v 3), Paul exhorted the Corinthians that they too must first possess a “willing mind” (v 12).
People will not be generous in any regard until they are first personally invested in an idea or project. Once they are “sold,” no sacrifice is too great. We see this from the earliest days of the church, where those first Christians “were of one heart and soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32).
Another misunderstood aspect of giving is that giving is measured according to the amount of the gift. This is not so. A person giving $20-25 a week may well give far more in God’s eyes than one giving ten times as much. Paul is careful to remind the brethren that our generosity in giving is based on what we have and not on what we don’t have (v 12). Remember the giving of the poor widow (Mark 12:41-44).
Finally, Paul exhorts the brethren to remember that their giving was a proof of their love (v 24). Parents (and grandparents) lavish their progeny with gifts and every good thing money can buy. Many go into extreme debt on this account, all to show their love.
Giving to the Lord should be marked by a desire to show the Lord how much we love Him because of what He has first done for us.