2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
Now, he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
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!”
The gospel of prosperity takes this passage and twists it. Actually, it leaves out the second part of verse 11, which begins with “so that”. They say, “If you give more to the church, you’ll receive more back.”
Believe it or not, I have I’ve actually heard a preacher say once that if you give God $1,000, God will bless you by giving you back $10,000! That may be exaggerating a bit, or maybe not. Either way though, the point for giving and the reason for the blessing remains selfish, for it answers the popular question, “what do I get out of it?” But tithing and donating money to ministries were never meant to be treated like a high-payout stock (actually, even if it was, people recognize the need to wait at least 5-10 years before cashing out, whereas with God, they always complain about Him taking so long or figuring Him phony when their payout is not immediate). Giving to the church is never supposed to be about what you get out of it. God doesn’t owe you anything for giving. You should give because you want to give.
But Paul did say that if you give much, you’ll get much back, so why not give much to get much back? The question to ask is, why do you want more, and what will you do with the more if you receive it?
Paul’s telling them that if you give much, then God will bless you with much, SO THAT you can (and will) give more.
Have you ever had that situation where you would like to give more, or you would like to help more, but can’t because you don’t have much to give? So you give what you can and God blesses you, SO THAT each chance you get to give, donate, or help somebody in need, you’ll have the resources (funds) to do so.
I think another key element in this passage is verse 7: “God loves a cheerful giver.” Now, I will admit, I have been in services where churches used this passage as a way to try and pressure people into giving more. But Paul tells us that God doesn’t want you to feel pushed or pressured into giving, nor unwilling or hesitant. He wants you to give because you want to give. Remember, God knows your heart. So if you’re giving isn’t out of genuine care, or if it’s something that you would rather not do, then you would honestly be better off not giving.
Now, this is also not a case of giving so you can feel good about giving. Yes, it feels good to help people, which is OK, but if the reason that you’re giving is in order to feed your emotions (or ego), then that too is the wrong reason to give. In fact, the only one receiving the credit for your giving should be God, for as Paul said in verse 11, “Through us, your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” You get the credit for giving, Paul and company gets the credit for delivering, but God gets all the glory and thanks for giving you the resources to give in the first place, and for His Kingdom for which they were used.
Here’s an example: when I bought my car, I dedicated it to God. Why? Because the money I used to buy it was what was left from my college fund, which my family started up for me. But it was God who set the interest, who gave my family the money to add into it each year, who gave my family the knowledge of how to put together and start up a mutual fund, worked it out so that I would have enough leftover to buy a car, inspired me to get all the information needed in researching the car that I ended up getting, and He even made sure that I would get that particular type of car. All I did was talk with the dealer, tell them how I wanted it, write the check and drive it home. It was God who did everything, so I decided to recognize it as God’s car. As such, I use it to glorify Him…I use it as a ministry tool.
The credit is all God’s, not yours. You give, you receive more back, SO THAT you may (and hopefully will) give more. Yes, you will also have more in the receiving, but your reason for giving is not so you will receive more and spend it on selfish things, but so that you may give more to those with selfless needs. And in so, He will also give you more opportunities to give.
Nothing you own is fully yours.
Sure you only need to give 10%, but God cares just as much about how you spend your other 90% as He does the 10. Bigger house, faster car, more stuff = wrong way of treating your gift. Maybe instead, you could keep your house (unless you’re in a dump or need more space), keep your car until it dies, be content with what you have, and use God’s blessings to bless others.
One of the main points they didn’t get was that their giving was not only them giving, it was giving with God. God was giving through them.
Remember, when you hear sermons or lessons saying that if you give more, you will get more back and it ends there, then you won’t understand why you were given more. God gave you that blessing for a purpose: to bless you so that you may bless others who are in need.