Session 9: Giving in the Second Testament Forward (Voluntary)

➡ Average Reading Time: 24 minutes

Cultivating GenerosityWhen you finish this lesson you should be able to:

Session Preview

We now conclude the Second Testament teaching on generosity by looking at fourteen passages.

Where We Are Going

Voluntary Giving in the New Testament

  1. Giving is Investing with God (Matt. 6.19-21, 24)
  2. Giving is to be in Response to Need (Acts 11.27-30)
  3. Giving is not a matter of what you have. Giving is Sacrificially Generous (2 Cor. 8.2; Mark 12.41-44; Philippians 4.18-19)
  4. Giving should be seen as a privilege of sharing (2 Cor. 8.3)
  5. Giving is done on the basis of first giving ourselves to God (2 Cor. 8.5-6)
  6. Giving is like a flower growing from a bud to full bloom (2 Cor. 8.7)
  7. Giving should be according to our means and demonstrate equality of sacrifice (2 Cor. 8.11-15)
  8. Giving Is To Be Planned (2 Cor. 9.1-5; 1 Cor. 16.1-2)
  9. Giving should always be generous (2 Cor. 9.6)
  10. Giving Amounts are Personally Determined (2 Cor. 9.7; Luke 19.1-10)
  11. Giving should not be manipulated (2 Cor. 9.7b)
  12. Giving Should Be a Time of Cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9.6-7)
  13. Giving allows us to be generous (2 Cor. 9.11)
  14. Giving supplies the needs of God’s people (2 Cor. 9.12)

Where Have We Been and Where We Are Going

Voluntary Giving In The New Testament

Giving to God is a matter of the heart and is always voluntary. However, we are not left without instructions concerning how we should understand and participate in generous voluntary giving. The Second Testament helps us understand how to cultivate a generous lifestyle. One thing should be made clear: In the Second Testament, there is never a mention of a tithe in any passage that deals with Christian giving. Jesus, Paul, Luke, James, Peter, John, Jude, or the writer of Hebrews never taught that tithing was the universal principle of giving in the Second Testament ecclesiae.

One might suggest that it was never taught because it was not a problem. To this line of reasoning, one might reply that there were often problems with offerings and their delivery. If tithing had been the standard “rule of faith” for followers of Jesus to give, it would have been mentioned in the solving of those problems.

So now we turn to the guidelines to help us discover the soil in which we cultivate a generous lifestyle. There are fourteen (14) guidelines for New Testament giving that will help us cultivate generosity and free us from legalism.

1 Giving is Investing with God (Matt. 6.19-21, 24)

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Ancient teachers generally acknowledged that earthly treasures were corruptible. Treasures could easily be stolen by digging through a wall of a home. Wealthy people usually kept their material goods in other places to safeguard them. They would deposit money in a temple for safekeeping. Most robbers would shrink at stealing from the gods. Some would bury their treasure in the ground or in caves where moths would attack the apparel and rust would attack the coins which would destroy their value.

The point of this text is that earthly things compete with our allegiance to God. Think about how much time is spent by someone who has invested $50,000 in the stock market. The daily newspaper becomes the Bible. The daily stock market reports send exuberance or chills to the investor, depending on how the investment is doing. Worry about the invested money sets into motion a myriad of emotions. Say a person took the same $50,000 and gave it to God. Now, where is his or her attention? A gift to God generates attention toward God and a relationship with God. That’s why Jesus tells us that where our treasure is, there our heart is also. The meaning is clear: whatever you invest in will preoccupy your mind because you will want to see the dividends increase on your investment. The point then becomes clear in Matthew 6.24, where we are told that we can’t serve two masters: God and Money. We have to choose to serve one or the other. Only God is a secure investment.

A Generious Friend

In the late ‘70s of the last century, my dad died while Donna and I were traveling and ministering in the Midwest. Not too many weeks before his death he and I stood on the driveway of his home and he hugged me for the final time and said goodbye to me. I assured him we would return to visit again, but he only squeezed me a little longer repeating his goodbye to me again.

Several days later, we arrived on a Tuesday morning to the next local ecclesia in which we were going to teach. The pastor met and greeted us and told me that I had received a long-distance phone call from Florida. As I dialed, I somehow knew that dad was gone. My brother-in-law answered the phone and told me that dad had slipped into the arms of Jesus early that morning. I told him we would be home as soon as we could. We were in Kansas City, MO. To drive was out of the question. To fly was also out of the question because we simply did not have the money to do so. All of our time, energy, and funds were invested in the ministry God had called us to do.

As I hung up the phone and told Donna what had happened I simply felt helpless inside. A passing thought came to call a friend in California and ask him for a short term loan. In less than thirty minutes he had gone to our local bank and directly deposited what we needed for our trip back to Florida to my dad’s funeral. It was a gift from God. From one of his kids to another.

Only God is a secure investment.

2 Giving is to be in Response to Need (Acts 11.27-30)

During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) The disciples, as each one was able, decided to provide help for the brothers and sisters living in Judea. This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

This story demonstrates sensitivity to need. The church in Antioch had heard about the need for the ecclesiae in Jerusalem. Notice, they decided to provide help for the church and took up an offering to send with Barnabas and Saul. Giving was in response to need.

At a conference that I worked in the mid-’80s, the leader, John Wimber, took an offering on the last day for a missionary who was attending the conference. He just simply told the attendees that there was a need in the missionary’s work in Hong Kong. He asked for a box, of all things, to be placed up front in the auditorium we were meeting in and for those attending to ask God how much they should give. Donna and I took the box back to the office that afternoon after the conference and counted the checks and cash that had been received from fewer than 600 attendees. There was almost $35,000 in the offering which was given totally to the missionary. Giving should be in response to need.

| Background of the Corinthians Correspondence

To help understand some of the following passages from the Corinthian correspondence, it is necessary to take a quick overview of the background of this correspondence. After Paul’s Second Church Planting Mission, he wrote what is today is called a “lost letter” to Corinth, in which he commanded disassociation from professing followers of Jesus who lived immorally. (1 Cor. 5.9ff.). Some feel that 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 is a fragment of this letter which was inserted in 2 Corinthians when Paul’s Letters were collected and published. First Corinthians was then written by Paul from Ephesus during his Third Missionary Journey dealing with a variety of different problems.

After writing First Corinthians, Paul made a quick, painful visit to Corinth. (2 Cor. 2:1, 12:14; 13:1). His efforts to straighten out the problems at Corinth were not successful. This resulted in Paul writing two more letters to the church at Corinth which were later edited into one letter.

| The Letter of Discipline: 2 Corinthians 10-13

Upon his return to Ephesus, he sends another letter (2 Corinthians 2:3ff.) in which he commanded the Corinthians to discipline his leading opponent in the ecclesiae at Corinth. Some feel that this letter is preserved in part at 2 Corinthians 10-13. Paul left Ephesus and anxiously awaits Titus at Troas and then in Macedonia.

| The Letter of Reconciliation: 2 Corinthians 1-9

Titus arrives with the news that the ecclesiae had disciplined Paul’s opponent and that most of the Corinthians had submitted to Paul’s authority. Paul then writes 2 Corinthians from Macedonia (still on Third Church Planting Trip) in response to the favorable report of Titus. Some scholars believe that what Paul wrote on this occasion was 2 Corinthians 1-9, except for 6.14 -7.1.

It is in the first letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus that they should take up a collection and how they should do that (1 Cor. 15.1ff.). It is in the letter of Reconciliation (2 Corinthians 1-9) that we find the passage about the giving of the Macedonian ecclesiae.

3 Giving is not a matter of what you have. Giving is Sacrificially Generous (2 Cor. 8.2; Mark 12.41-44; Philippians 4.18-19)

2 Corinthians 8:2

In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.

The Macedonian Churches (Philippi: Acts 16.12-40; Thessalonica: Acts 17.1-9; and Berea: Acts 17.10-15) were prime candidates for giving more if it had more. They had initially experienced the grace of God through Paul’s Second Church Planting Mission. At this juncture in their life, they had fallen on lean times. We often say that if we only had more, we would give more. The opposite for these churches was true; they gave out of their extreme poverty. From the severity of their life they gave generously.

Mark 12.41-44

Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents.

Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.”

This story about the widow is the height of sacrificial giving. Tradition says that there were thirteen receptacles which stood in the Court of Women in which offerings could be dropped. The “two very small copper coins” were the lightest and least valuable coins of that time period. God counted her gift as much more than all the coins which the well-off people had placed into the receptacles. She had given all she had. The point of his teaching for the disciples was that sacrificial giving is the essence of giving. This is the call of God to us in the local ecclesia. Giving sacrificially certainly means more than what is being given currently.

Philippians 4.18-19

I have received full payment and have more than enough. I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God. And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.

Paul planted the ecclesiae at Philippi on his Second Missionary Trip. When he wrote these words to his friends in Philippi, he was in a Roman jail. He finished his short letter to them by thanking them for their financial help.
The language which Paul uses in the larger passage, beginning with Philippians 4.14 is the language of banking. He was talking about the money the Phillipian ecclesiae had supplied him for the ministry in which he was involved. In Philippians 4.18-19 he turns to the language of religious sacrifice. Here are three important factors which Paul wishes us to learn about giving:

When we give to God, our gifts bring pleasure to him. A fragrant offering is the language that the First Testament employed to picture God as literally taking pleasure in the smell of the sacrifices offered by his people. Its usual symbolic meaning referred to the quality an offering must possess for it to be pleasing and acceptable to God.

What it costs us to give, results in pleasure for God. The gifts were an acceptable sacrifice. Again Paul uses the First Testament language that refers to the multitude of animal sacrifices that were offered to God. For a First Testament God-follower to give his animals was a real sacrifice for him. His animals represented his daily or weekly ration of food.

Because of sacrificial gifts, God would then supply the needs of the giver. We often quote Philippians 4.19 out of the context in which it appears. God is only obligated to give to us according to his riches as we have sacrificially given to him.

The point: we should ask God what amount we should give that will be a sacrifice for us. Remember, what it costs us to give results in pleasure for God.

4 Giving should be seen as a privilege of sharing (2 Cor. 8.3)

For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.

These followers of Jesus begged for the privilege of sharing in this time of giving. They didn’t want to be left out. When is the last time you saw someone in the local ecclesia plead with its attendees/members to be allowed to give? On the other hand, how often do we conveniently find something else to do as the offering containers are being passed? When will be the first time that you hear of a need and beg those who are taking up the offering to please let you have an opportunity to give? It is a privilege to give generously.

5 Giving is done on the basis of first giving ourselves to God (2 Cor. 8.5-6)

And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part.

The key to giving is that first, you give yourself to God. Then, the attitude of giving that he has is infused into your very being. What he is, is what you become. It is out of a growing relationship with God that we take on his character of graciousness.

6 Giving comes from being eager to excel (2 Cor. 8.7)

But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

Paul told the Corinthians that if the Macedonians could give out of their poverty, they certainly could give out of their richness. The point is that everyone can give generously regardless of what end of the financial spectrum they find themselves. Remember, it’s not how much you have to give, but how sacrificially you give that impresses God. The Contemporary English Version translates this as follows, “You do everything better than anyone else. You have stronger faith. You speak better and know more. You are eager to give, and you love us better.[a] Now you must give more generously than anyone else.”

7 Giving should be according to our means and demonstrate equality of sacrifice (2 Cor. 8.11-15)

Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

You can’t give away what you don’t have. But you can give generously from what you do have. God is not after equal gifts or equal percentages; he is after equal sacrifice. You give according to your means. Asking for specific donations limits people in their giving. When a local ecclesia puts on a giving campaign and asks for a specific donation, it is often rather high. Those who have more to give will often give less. Those who have less to give can’t even enter into the procedure and the latter group then feels guilty for not participating.

It is a fact that about twenty percent of the people in any given local ecclesia give about eighty percent of the gifts, while eighty percent give twenty percent of the gifts. The fact of the matter is that if everyone was doing their share in sacrificial giving, we would not constantly hear about the need for money in the local ecclesia.

Several years ago, I preached on these Second Testament passages and placed this statistic on the table for those in attendance. There were about 200 folks there that Sunday morning. I suggested that about forty of those people were giving eighty percent of the funds while the other 160 people were giving only twenty percent of the funds. “Just look around the room,” I said, “there are about 160 of you that are not pulling your fair share of sacrificial giving.” And so that the twenty percent didn’t get really prideful I suggested that the eighty percent that they were giving was probably not sacrificial either. A quiet hush came over the place as they realized the implications of their specific financial plight.

8 Giving Is To Be Planned (2 Cor. 9.1-5; 1 Cor. 16.1-2)

2 Corinthians 9.1-5

There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the Lord’s people. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

1 Corinthians 16.1-2

Now about the collection for the Lord’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do. On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

We often give with a poor attitude, or we give out of guilt, or we give out of fear that God will take us to task for our failure to give. These attitudes are usually the result of poor teaching about giving. So that we have a proper attitude about giving generously, we are to plan, and then when the appropriate time comes we give generously. This is a good place to talk about 1 Corinthians in regards to planning.

In this text, Paul turned to the next-to-last question that had been proposed to him by the Corinthian church. What about this collection? He first talks about the purpose of the collection, then he tells the church how and when to collect it.

| Support for Believers and Leaders: Verse One

Now about the collection for God’s people: Do what I told the Galatian churches to do.

|| Believers

Paul provides some basic directives for being generous in the local ecclesia. These instructions serve as a model for giving today. First, we may note that the collection was for God’s people. It would appear that it is not supposed to be the activity of the local ecclesia to take money given to it and then distribute it to “secular” situations. The collection of money in the local ecclesia is for God’s people, meaning the Jesus followers in the local ecclesia.

Let’s mine the idea of giving for the support of the local ecclesia. As Jesus followers we are to give to support those among us who are poor and needy. There are people in the local ecclesia who are from time to time in need and it is the responsibility of the local ecclesia to meet that need and supply what they don’t have.

|| Leaders

Another group that receives the benefit of our generous giving to the local ecclesia is the leaders of the local ecclesia. Paul talks about receiving financial help from a local ecclesia. In Philippians 4.15-16 we read, “Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid more than once when I was in need..” Paul thanked them for the offering he had received from them. The ecclesiae at Philippi gave financial support to Paul.

In 1 Corinthians 9 1, 4-7, 11, Paul argues that he has the right to be supported by the church to whom he is ministering. In the case of the Corinthians, he had forfeited that right.

Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not the result of my work in the Lord?

Don’t we have the right to food and drink? Don’t we have the right to take a believing wife along with us, as do the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas? Or is it only I and Barnabas who lack the right to not work for a living?

If we have sown spiritual seed among you, is it too much if we reap a material harvest from you?

Another passage with this idea is 1 Timothy 5.17-18. It reads, “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.” The term “elder” is a synonym for a functioning pastor, bishop, or presbyter. All of those terms are used for leaders in the church. They are not permanent positions as we fin in most Western churches. We must note that those whose work is preaching and teaching are worthy of double pay.

The elders who direct the affairs of the local ecclesia well is worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching. Remember, Scripture says, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain,” and “The worker deserves his wages.”

The local ecclesia is called upon to give so that other Jesus followers can receive the blessing of God, and it is called to financially support its functioning leaders. These scriptures are often used to support the salary for “full-time” pastors, etc., in a Western ecclesiae. Their was no such idea present in the Timothy passage.

| Support When? Verse Two

On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.

The appointed day of the week for giving is the first day of the week. The normal day that a local ecclesia meets is Sunday. This all started because the resurrection of Jesus occurred on the first day of the week. This became the pattern for the meeting time of the Second Testament ecclesia. The point of this passage is that God wants consistency. He also wants us to deal with the attitude of giving regularly, not just once in a great while. In our culture, some are paid weekly, some bi-weekly, and some monthly. The truth presented here is that we should be sensitive and consistent in our giving pattern.

|| Give Where? Verse Two

I think that the implication of this verse fits well with the teaching in Acts: that the generous giving of the people of God is given to the ecclesia where the local group of Jesus followers should distribute the funds to meet the needs of God’s people. Today, we have more people pulling and requesting gifts than one can hardly imagine. How then do we give to other ministries? The central concept of the ecclesia is that it is the family of God. It has a universal expression in that we have brothers and sisters all over the world. It also has a local expression where we can function as members of a family to the greatest extent. We should note that the talk here about giving was to people in a local ecclesia in Corinth. Family is important! One might fix as a priority in his or her mind that the first of our generous giving that is done with God’s money is done to help perpetuate the local expression of the family of God to which an individual participates.

Think about your own family for a minute. How many of you would see your primary family in need and then take money from it and send it away to another part of the family? Giving to the local ecclesia to which you belong and partake of God’s blessings is not an option. It is also not a matter of leading by the Holy Spirit. He will simply not lead you to give beyond the confines of the local expression of the family until all the needs of that local family are met. Then, you can expect him to call on you to give to other members of the extended family as well. If you attend a local ecclesia and do not consistently and generously give, then you are saying that your heart is not really with that group. In today’s society where the Institutional Church, what I call ChurchWorld, is not always the appropriate place to give God’s funds because those funds may likely be governed by one person and directed toward that person’s own need. As an example, I once attended a church consumed with the ChurchWorld mindset, where the salaries of the support staff were cut while the senior staff member still collected a consistent salary. My studies of this are of theology have led me to the conclusion that such an example is not a practice a local ecclesia should practice and maybe a stench in the nostrils of God.

9 Giving should always be generous (2 Cor. 9.6, Luke 6.38)

2 Corinthians 9.6

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.

You can look in vain in the Second Testament and there are no percentages or specific amounts that you are required to give to the church. There are required taxes for the government. Do you know why there are no specific amounts or percentages given? Because if there were, that’s all we would give, and under a legalistic tithing system that is all we feel required to give. We would take the lower road of limited giving instead of the higher road of generosity. The fact is that we get to set the amount, remembering that generosity is the goal to shoot toward.

Luke 6.38

Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

These two sentences are found in Luke’s rendering of the Sermon on the Mount. Luke 6.38 is the sixth of six commandments:

  • Love your enemies: Luke 6.35
  • Be merciful: Luke 6.36
  • Do not judge: Luke 6.37
  • Do not condemn: Luke 6.37
  • Forgive: Luke 6.37
  • Give: Luke 6.38

The Palestinian agricultural imagery is a basis for Second Testament-style giving. The Jewish people thought in pictures. The image which Luke presents is a measuring jar filled with corn, pressed down into the jar so the jar held as much as possible. When the jar was filled by the merchant, it was shaken to allow the corn to settle in the jar which provided more space to put more corn. The final act of filling the jar was to pour corn over the jar until it overflowed. The overflow would fall into the lap of the purchasers. There was a fold in the garment worn which caught the extra corn.

The result: more corn than the jar could originally hold. The point Jesus is making: As you give, God will respond by giving to you, only he gives back more than you originally gave. In short, he pays interest on the money you give to him.

For the measure you use, it will be measured to you. This saying is the basis for and qualifies all the commandments stated above. Love generously and you will be loved by God generously. Show mercy generously and God will be generous with his mercy to you. Demonstrate generosity by not condemning and God will do the same for you. Forgive generously and God will forgive you generously. Give generously and God will give back to you generously.

As you learn to consistently give to God, you will receive from him according to the measure you give. Take this away and meditate on it: Human generosity is rewarded with divine generosity.

As we invest with God, he will give back to us-pressed down-shaken- and overflowing into our laps. As we are generous with him, he will be more than generous with us.

10 Giving Amounts are Personally Determined (2 Cor. 9.7;

Luke 19.1-10)

2 Corinthians 9:7

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.

The text is clear. There is no percentage. Each one should give as he has decided in his or her heart and then give cheerfully.

Luke 19.1-10

Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”

Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham. For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

How much did Zacchaeus give? He gave fifty percent. Now, this would have been a perfect opportunity for Jesus to have said, “Zac, you just don’t get it! You are only required to give ten percent. You keep the rest.” Jesus did not restrict him to a tithe. He could have, but he didn’t. To do so would have robbed Zacchaeus from a blessing. You can see that Zacchaeus was moved out of his love and gratitude for what Jesus had given him. As we shall see next, 2 Corinthians 9.7b says, Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Giving amounts are to be individually determined. The amount is between you and God with generosity as the goal.

11 Giving should not be manipulated (2 Cor. 9.7b)

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.

The word “compulsion” means to be imposed upon or to take advantage of. Manipulation should never be used to inspire people to give. How many times have we been pulled to give because of the images that are paraded before us to manipulate us to give? If we would just follow the implicit teaching of this text and decided in our hearts what to give, we would not easily fall prey to those who would try and extract funds from us in such an unworthy display of greed.

12 Giving Should Be a Time of Cheerfulness (2 Cor. 9.6-7)

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.

These sentences are like the First Testament proverbial wisdom statements. The first part of the exhortation may allude to Exodus 25.2, 35.5. When Paul speaks to the Corinthians about giving, he demonstrates a rather well-developed theology of First Testament voluntary giving. Paul told the Corinthians that the amount you gain is in direct proportion to the amount you give. Give a little, receive a little. Give generously, receive generously. Second, he told them that each person should give what he has decided in his heart. This is voluntary giving. The person should not be manipulated into giving. The word for “cheerful” in this text is hilaros. It only appears here in the New Testament writings. It is the root word from which we get our word hilarious. It originally meant cheerful or joyous. It later meant kindly, gracious, and benevolent. Here are some suitable synonyms: merry, joyous, joyful, happy as a child in a sandbox, happy as a king, happy as a lark, happy as the day is long, effervescent, bubbly, sparkling, laughter-loving, waggish, jocular, jovial, jolly, dancing, laughing, singing, wild, rowdy, shouting, roaring with laughter, hilarious, uproarious, rip-roaring, splitting one’s sides, helpless with laughter, and tickled pink. This is the way we should be when it comes to giving an offering to God. The time of giving should not be a dreaded occasion. It should be one in which we are tickled pink, a time we are beside ourselves to have the opportunity to give generously. This is the clear teaching of this passage. So next time it’s time to give, have a party!

13 Giving allows us to be generous (2 Cor. 9.11-15)

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 first sentence of this passage should become a motto for our life. “God make me rich in every way so that I can become generous on every occasion and through my generosity, you will be blessed and thanked.” The result of giving generously is that God takes every occasion in your life to make you rich so that at all times you can be generous when there is a need.

Giving supplies the needs of God’s people

14 (2 Cor. 9.12)

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.

The people of God are the ecclesiae. Their needs are plentiful. Giving is God’s way of meeting their needs. The Corinthian participation in this generous gesture would demonstrate the reality of their confession and the vitality of their spiritual lives.

Where We Have Been And Where We Are Going

God loves a generous giver and he blesses those who are generous. Remember, with God, less is more, and more is less. The writer of Deuteronomy provides us with an excellent way to conclude our thoughts on giving. “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” (Deuteronomy 15.10).

Where are we going? To cultivate generosity as a lifestyle and give to give to give to give so that in every way on every occasion that you bless and honor God for being just like he is—generous, lavish, extravagant, and unselfish.

Community Discussion Questions

➡ |CDQ Info|

  • Where do you store your treasures? How do they control your thinking?
  • When presented with a genuine need, how do you respond? Why?
  • Which is easier to give, money or yourself? Why?
  • How much of a sacrifice was the last gift you gave to God?
  • What are the ways that you can continually give yourself to God?
  • How is your flower of generosity blooming?
  • How can you judge if your generous gift is sacrificial?
  • How will planning keep you from developing a poor attitude toward giving?
  • Why do you think that left to yourself that you think that you are through giving if you work on a percentage?
  • How can you learn to trust your heart to be generous?
  • How do you stay away from being taken advantage of by those who play on your emotions to give?
  • Which one of the words listed in the 2 Corinthians 9.6-7 above best describes you when it comes time to give to God? If one of these does not fit, what word would you use to describe your attitude when it comes to giving?
  • How can you apply this saying to your life? “God make me rich in every way so that I can become generous on every occasion and through my generosity you will be blessed and thanked.”
  • In what way can you judge the vitality of your life with God? How much vitality do you have?

End of Session

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Read Me First


Throughout these sessions, I have used the word ecclesia (singular) for the usual word church and ecclesiae (plural) to indicate a church in a particular geographic place, i.e., the ecclesiae at Corinth, meaning the whole of the many smaller ecclesia that met in homes in Corinth. This is to distinguish between the Institutional Church model (IC) and ecclesia that meet in cities and towns around the world. The ecclesiae written about by the authors of the Second Testament were not the same as what the “church” has become over the years of its existence. Usually, but not always, folks think of a church as a place where they go to a building and set in rows of pews and listen to music and sometimes sing and listen to sermons by a pastor or senior pastor. The ecclesiae of the Second Testament time did not invoke this model.


I have discovered over the years that if you want to try and change minds about something special, you have to venture out and reword it in order to grasp a foothold for a new refreshed understanding of the idea presented by the word. Such is the case between "church" and "ecclesia."


Happy Reading!

Read Me Second


Referenced verses in the text of this study are not used to prove some point of view. They are merely markers where the subject matter is referenced by other books and authors. To gain a larger view of each quote, a serious student of the Holy Writ would take the time to view the reference and see what the background is. The background provides tracks on which the meaning of a text rides. So knowing the context of a referenced passage would help the reader to gain a more thorough understanding of an author than just the words quoted and marked by a verse number that was not a part of the original author's text, which as you might remember was performed on the text in a random fashion many years later.


Happy Reading!

Read Me Third


The verses that are referenced in these sessions are not meant to prove a point. They are simply pointers to where the idea being written about may have a correlation. In order to see if they accomplish the thesis presented by the original author, a student should read, at a minimum, the chapter in which the verse is found as well as trying to ascertain what the original author may have meant to say to the original audience.


Of course, this is a lot of work but it is beneficial work. If one does not understand what the author meant when it was written and the audience could not have understood by what was written, then the words on the page can mean anything that a present reader may assign as a meaning, thus distorting what God was inspiring for the original writer to write to the original audience to hear.

A great and recent book by N.T. Wright and Michael F. Bird entitled The New Testament in Its World would be a wonderful addition to your reading helps.


Happy Reading!

Jesus Followers


There are many synonyms to use for the word believer, which is the most common word for a person who has "converted" to follow Jesus. I have chosen "Jesus follower(s) or follower(s) of Jesus instead of the word believer in these presentations to allow the reader an opportunity to move away from the idea of believer which conjures up the possible thought of "ascent" to a set of doctrines that have been assembled by different groups over the centuries and show up in this day and age as a set of statements posted on web sites and other written material. These sets of beliefs are suggested by many as the ones that one should ascent to so that upon death the one who assents can go to heaven, i.e., just believe and you are good to go. Jesus followers/followers of Jesus suggest an action that one should take. Remember, Jesus told his disciples to follow him. Yes, belief is important, but one must move beyond belief to action.


(See "Discipleship" Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. 182-188.)