“Oh the deep deep love of Jesus “ – I am overwhelmed by the words of this song I have been listening to which highlights Jesus’ love for me – for us.
“Love – A word which conjures up mystical, almost ethereal emotions and ideas. It brings forth the picture of beauty, loveliness, light, warmth. At the same time it can also be a fixed point in times of ugliness and despair. It can be a shining light of hope against the darkness of unfaithfulness and desertion. That is why My love is so different. It is not ethereal – it is real – demonstrated by My supreme act on the cross which I undertook solely for the benefit of mankind, for you and all others who would receive it. It is fixed and sure and if I could have done that – how much more will I do all else for you that love requires and offers. It is very real and calls for only one response – your love for Me in return, demonstrated by your action of following Me as you deny yourself”
As we come now again to Corinthians ch 9, we get to the heart of the teaching on giving. For many Christians, their giving is just a matter of “tithing”. There is nothing wrong with that, however that is not the New Testament teaching on giving. That is an Old Testament requirement, almost like a tax. In the New Testament giving is an act of worship. An act which reflects our relationship with God and understanding of His generosity towards us.
The first part of Ch 9 continues with Paul’s motivation to the Corinthians to give, using the Macedonians, almost to create a sort of competition or jealousy.
The real teaching comes from v 6 -15. Just a few observations that struck me. I wonder what you saw in these vv as you read them.
The first word which struck me was the word “grace” which is repeated twice (vv 8, 14). From that I gather that our giving is commensurate with our understanding the grace of God. As I have reflected on God’s grace I realize how difficult it is to really understand and appreciate the fulness of His grace and what it really means. He has given and given to us. He has given forgiveness to us at great expense to Himself. To us who absolutely did not and never will deserve it. The God of all creation coming in human form and dying for us. As well as that He has given us everything we need to live our lives in grateful thanks to Him.
As we understand that through God’s intervention it will show in our response. That is what v 8 is really saying. It will show in our being prepared to sow generously. It will show in the cheerfulness and joy in giving. Another translation of the word “cheerful” in vs 7 is “hilarious”. That should characterize our giving. A joy which reflects our understanding of God’s grace. Against that background you give what you have decided in your heart not because of a law of compulsion to give a tenth. Don’t know how much to give? Well start with a tenth.
Paul goes on to describe the spiritual concept and benefits of sowing generously. The last part of vs 8 reminds us that giving is just part of the lives of those who have been transformed by God’s love. It is part of “every good work” which every Christian shows.
The vs he quotes from psalm 112 follows one in the psalm which says that good will come to those who lend (give) generously and is part if the description of a man under God’s blessing. (Psalm 112:5)
Then (back in Corinthians) from vs 10 onwards Paul shows how our sowing ( giving) brings a harvest. The harvest is not one of wealth in financial terms. The harvest is one of righteousness. Yet at the same time God promises that no matter how much you give He will always continue to supply all your needs.
This whole attitude of generosity becomes a great part of your witness to the reality of your relationship with God and will result in people recognizing God’s work in us overflowing in thankfulness.
So summarizing some of these main points, our giving is a reflection of a God who is continually giving to us and should bring a response as part of our Christian life of giving with great joy that which we decide, with God’s help to give. This whole attitude and action results in the most genuine witness that we can have to the reality of Jesus and His love. It should never be a legal requirement to somehow satisfy God that we are on the right path. It should also not be focused on what we will get in return. This is a teaching in the Prosperity churches.
Let us just focus on God’s love and grace in this coming week and let the rest flow from that. God bless you all.