My parents were born during the Great Depression in America. Hundreds and thousands of people lost their jobs, incomes, savings, even homes. Families struggled to eat and stay together. Husbands and sons traveled far from home at times to find work. Life was hard. People’s dreams were crushed. Who was to blame? Who handled the pressure to find work, feed their kids, and take care of their needs? An economic downturn affects everyone, but especially for hard-working people who lose their jobs.
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.
The early Christian writers took their cues from Jesus who taught about being generous. Christians can either give generously or sparingly. Jesus said that God would reward them accordingly (Matthew 7:1-2). The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthian Christians that they should look at giving as a form of saving, not loss. He argued that giving from the quality of a person’s heart and motive would actually benefit the giver just as much, or more, than the receiver (2 Corinthians 9:11).
Paul added in verse 8 that believers who give what they can to help those in need will find that God’s grace provides sufficiently for their own needs. Additionally, he said that generous people abound even more in every good work (Ephesians 4:28).
For generosity to be expressed outwardly, the heart must be rich in sincere love and compassion for others. Paul says the giving of our resources and ourselves results in a) meeting the needs of poorer brothers and sisters in Christ (v 12), b) praise to God (v 12-13), and c) reciprocal love from those who have been served (v 14).
What does v 7 say about when to give? Why to give? What promise does God give to those to give generously in v 8? What results from the generosity of Christians in v 11?
In Galatians 2, Paul and Barnabus were reminded to not only evangelize, but give to the poor (v 10). Scripture reveals that they did just that. Luke records in Acts 11:29-30 that Paul and company preached the gospel and mobilized financial aid to those in need. Paul earlier asked the Corinthians to contribute to a collection for believers just as he asked the Galatian churches to do so.
Chi Alpha Christian Fellowship has a motto for our college students: We call them to “pray, give, go, and welcome” (i.e., offer hospitality). Our view of giving, or stewarding what God has given us involves tithing, making a monthly faith promise to missions, and giving offerings as the three basic legs of our stewardship practice of generosity.
During tough times, we should be ready to help people in need – spiritually, physically, financially, or in any way we can. In the Depression or even today, a dime may not go far, but a generous attitude does. Attitude and actual giving is expected of all of us.
Live communally. Make it a point to cultivate the regular action of giving generously, not for the reward, but to honor God. Good exercise for the heart and soul is to bend down and help another person up. What can you do this week to be a cheerful giver?
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz