The Reading: 2 Corinthians 9:1-8
“God loves a cheerful giver” (v.7) RSV
Giving is good for the soul. It releases the deathly grip that money can exercise over us. It frees us from the love of money, “the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10), and it frees us from the fear of losing it or not having it. That is why Jesus is reported to have said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). We all know how great it feels to receive an inheritance, a salary/wage packet, or a gift. Well, how do you feel when there is the opportunity to give?
Nobody is meant to press gang you into giving, whether by using bible texts or moral blackmail or any other pressurising tactics. There is no law about giving. In the Old Testament there were laws about giving, including tithing. But these were blunt and somewhat unfair laws. The New Testament principle is that giving is to be freely and generously done. The guidance is that the more we have the more we give and vice versa.
The worst thing is to give from inferior motives. St Paul made this plain in his well known passage on ‘love’. He wrote, “If I give away all I have … but have not love, I gain nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3). We will never find it more blessed to give if our motivation is not love.
It is the Spirit of God who gives us the compassion and the generosity of spirit to give. We will give according to our means and even beyond our means, as did, for example, the churches of Macedonia (2 Cor. 8:1-3). The Spirit will enable us to give not just as a duty but as a joy. That is why today’s reading says that we can give “cheerfully” (v.7). The Greek word gives an even stronger feel: ‘hilariously’! Yes indeed, “God loves a cheerful giver” (v.7).
I believe this abandoned attitude to giving is exemplified in the giving of the widow whom Jesus observed putting her last mite (her all) into the collection plate. In doing this, she gave more than many rich people who put in large sums” (Mark 12:41).
Teach me my Lord to give and not to count the cost. Teach me to give just as you have given to me. Amen.
1 What are our obligations to the poor?
2 What can be the consequences of giving?