Six Principles of Generous Giving

Six Principles of Generous Giving

People from all walks of life agree that giving to others is good.  Charities and nonprofits rely on the generosity of others to operate.  But Christians make financial gifts with particular motivations and goals in mind.  As followers of Christ, we are called to give generously for God’s glory!

In the early church, there was a famine in Judea, and so churches in the surrounding areas collected donations to send to the Christians who had been impacted (Acts 11:29).  In 2 Corinthians 9, Paul writes to the Christians there with instructions about giving to this relief fund.  In these verses, we learn six key principles about generous giving: 

1- Giving should be planned and prepared (vv. 1-5) 

We see here that the Christians in Corinth had expressed their zealous desire to give toward the relief effort over a year ago (v. 2).  However, Paul decides to send some people ahead of him to make sure their gift is collected and ready to go.  If he showed up and it wasn’t ready, they’d all be humiliated (v. 4)!  The financial offering they had promised should be ready in advance, so it is received “as a willing gift, not as an exaction.”  He doesn’t want their giving to appear to be done reluctantly or grudgingly – as though they are being forced to give or guilted into it!  

Giving shouldn’t be done impulsively, casually, or out of guilt. If you find yourself giving whatever you happen to have in your wallet, or putting money in an offering plate just because everyone around you is, then your heart may not be in the right place. Our giving should be prayerful, planned, and set aside ahead of time.

2- Giving should be purposeful and cheerful (vv. 6-7)

Our financial giving is like sowing seeds into God’s Kingdom, and if we spread our seeds bountifully, there will be a bountiful harvest (v. 6).  Many Christians want to know how much they should give to the church and other ministries.  In the Old Covenant, God’s people were required to give 10% (the tithe) of all that God had given to them (Mal. 3:10).  Is that a law for us?  Should we give more than 10%?  Is it OK to give less?  Here we are told how much to give:  “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart” (v. 7).  Plan out a budget, seek the Lord, and decide ahead of time how much to give, then you won’t feel reluctant or compelled.  When we understand God’s will for us, we can give bountifully, with joy, knowing that God loves a cheerful giver!  

3- Giving is supplied by God’s abounding grace (vv. 8-10)

God’s grace toward us is abundant, overflowing, so we have everything we need to abound in good works for him (v. 8).  These good works include our acts of love, service, and giving.  The same God who provides bread for us to eat will provide the resources we need to give (v. 10).  All that we have belongs to God, and so we are called to be faithful stewards (Mat. 25:24ff).  So, if God funds our giving, then we can give generously!  I knew a Christian couple who had a goal to give away 90% of what they had and only live off of 10%!  As verse 11 goes on to say, “you will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way.”

4- Giving produces righteousness in us (vv. 9-10)

We saw in verse 6 that if we sow bountifully (i.e. give generously), we will also reap bountifully.  So what is the harvest we receive?  Some people erroneously teach that if you give a lot of money to the church, God will make you rich!  But the Bible doesn’t teach that.  Here we see that through generous giving, you “increase the harvest of your righteousness” (v. 10).  Jesus said, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Mat. 6:21).  As we invest our money in serving others and spreading the Gospel, that’s where our heart will be.  Giving has a purifying effect on the giver – our motives and priorities are cleansed.  Giving helps us let go of our self-centeredness and materialism, and we grow in righteousness.  If we hold back our giving, we hold back our spiritual growth.  “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

5- Giving meets needs and increases thanksgiving (vv. 11-12)

As we’ve already seen, God has richly supplied us so that we can be generous to others (v. 11).  And when we give generously, it has a two-fold impact on those who receive the gift:  First, it supplies their needs; second, they overflow in thanksgiving to God – knowing that he is the one providing for them!  Verse 13 goes on to say, “they will glorify God” because of your generosity.  Whether you give to help an individual in financial hardship, to support the local church you attend, or to fund a missionary spreading the Gospel, their needs are met and they give thanks to God.  What a joy to be a part of God’s provision for others!   

6- Giving is a response to the gospel (vv. 13-15) 

You can give generously because of God’s abundant grace, and that is directly flowing from your faithfulness to “your confession of the gospel of Christ” (v. 13).  Our obedience and financial giving is a response to the forgiveness and eternal life that we have through Christ – “the surpassing grace of God upon you” (v. 14).  The transforming work of Christ means that our entire lives – our time, talent, and treasure – are given in service to him!  “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (v. 15)!  We can give joyfully and generously because we have been made rich in Jesus Christ!  


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