II Corinthians 9:7
– People mistakenly take this to mean, “If I’m not happy about giving, I shouldn’t give.”
– This interpretation would contradict many scriptures, including the very core message of discipleship — denying self. (Luke 9:23)
– What Paul is actually saying is, “If you’re not happy about giving, change your heart. We must give with a generous heart.”
– In context, Paul is actually trying to compel the people of Corinth to give:
II Corinthians 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—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
II Corinthians 8:8-9 – “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
II Corinthians 8:10-12 – “And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 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.”
II Corinthians 8:14 – “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…”
II Corinthians 9:2-4 – “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.”
Right Thing, Wrong Heart
– Paul’s heart for the Corinthian brothers and sisters is displayed quite clearly: “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.” (II Corinthians 9:5)
– Often times, we can do the right thing with the wrong heart. Although it can get immediate results, it is not pleasing to God.
– The goal of Paul’s writing is to get the Corinthian disciples to do the right thing with the right heart.
Should I Feel Compelled?
II Corinthians 5:14-15 – “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.”
– Yes, we should feel compelled by Christ’s love.
– That alone should take away any reluctance in our giving.
Command The Rich
I Timothy 6:17-18 – “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.”
– Paul is writing this to Timothy.
– Paul doesn’t contradict himself in his letters to the Corinthians and to Timothy.
– A leader should try to compel “the rich” to give sacrificially — and even more importantly — generously.
– Ultimately, this is for the good of those who are given to and also the one who is giving! (I Timothy 6:19)