2 Corinthians 9:5 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.
You have really got to read 2 Corinthians 9 today. Blogging on just a verse or two is painful for me, because this is such a rich passage. Paul covers the heart of giving – from sowing and reaping, to generosity, to heart attitudes, to provision. I think I have changed my topic 5 times!
When you go to a wedding, you get to see a couple of people start a new life together. It is an exciting time for them and you are excited that they invited you to come witness it with them. That is, of course, unless they asked you to be in it, costing you hundreds of dollars. Some things I should probably not say out loud, but that’s the honest to goodness truth. Anyway, back to the wedding. There is this thing we do at weddings: we bring gifts for the bride and the groom. This is an opportunity to help them get a good start. Now there are two different ways to approach this. Some people are thrilled to go shopping and find something special for the newlyweds. Others are thinking, geesh, what’s the cheapest thing on the registry? Either way, you probably arrive with a gift. I haven’t ever seen someone show up to a wedding and say, “I was supposed to bring a gift?” It’s something you think about beforehand. I mean you probably don’t just quickly write them a check on the way to the wedding. I would never do that… ya.
Quickly moving on before I lose my point more than I already have. Paul was writing the church in Corinth and telling them to put some thought into giving. He was asking them to make a decision in their heart to be generous. He was reminding them of what God does with generosity. He was pointing them to the heart attitudes, not just the act of giving. You see, Paul didn’t want to just show up and have people feel all weird and obligated to reach into their pockets and hand him some cash. But when we don’t make giving and generosity intentional in our lives, this is precisely what will happen.
It happens in the church too. That offering plate goes around and we think there is some kind of social obligation. If we don’t put anything in it, we feel a little guilty. If we put something in, we feel like we were pressured. It’s like walking by the homeless guy with the cardboard sign. It’s easy to feel either obligated or guilty. But here’s the thing – God is not a homeless guy with a cardboard sign. And giving to the Lord is not some weird kind of social obligation. It is a heart attitude. It is a life decision of generosity. It is an act of worship and praise to our God. When we have the issue straightened out in our hearts, we can show up and give with confidence. We have to make up our minds beforehand. We shouldn’t be scrambling through our pockets for loose change. That isn’t giving to the Lord, that is feeling obligated to make a deposit. Let’s get giving right in our hearts so that we can make arrangements to give in advance, no matter what the occasion. Then it will be a generous gift, not one grudgingly given.