“God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:7-8
A businessman buddy of mine has the proverbial “Midas” touch. It seems like every business venture he touches turns to gold. I’ll never forget the day he said to me, “Joe, do you know what really drives me?” Since he’s one of those driven, type-A personalities, I was really curious about what his answer would be.
“No, what drives you?” I replied.
“Supporting my habit!”
Now I was really curious! “Whoa . . . tell me about it. What habit is that?”
“Advancing the cause of Jesus Christ!” he said with a grin. “I figure that the more money I make, the more I can give to the work of God.”
What a great response! His joy, when it comes to his wealth, is to generously distribute as much as he can to advance the cause of Christ.
That’s the kind of attitude Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians 9:8. As he talks to the Corinthian church about that most delicate subject—giving—he offers an important lesson on biblical economics. The type of giving God is looking for, Paul says, is cheerful, out-of-a-joyful heart kind of giving (2 Corinthians 9:7), not begrudging, gotta-pay-my-Jesus-tax kind of giving. And as we pursue the joy that comes from investing in God’s work, Paul reminds us that God will also “supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Corinthians 9:10).
We need to be careful here. At this point it would be easy to say to ourselves: “Okay, God, if you give me the Midas touch too, I would be happy to give generously to your work.” Our assumption is that it would be much easier for us to give if we just had more money. But the lessons of human nature tell us otherwise.
Often our seasons of financial prosperity draw our attention to bigger homes, bigger cars, bigger mutual funds, and bigger TVs, rather than to bigger opportunities for advancing the cause of Christ. The lure of “more” is highly seductive. Giving to God’s work is not a habit that starts when we’re experiencing material success. It’s a habit best cultivated and nurtured in seasons of depending on God through lean times.
Paul points that fact out one chapter earlier when, speaking of the Macedonian church’s generosity, he writes, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:2). Which all goes to prove that an attitude of joyful generosity starts now, right where you are, with whatever you have. What a joy it is to be addicted to proving that God and His work is worthy of the very best that we have—regardless of how much that might be!
And, speaking of being rich, viewed from a global perspective even the poorest of us have much more than most people do in this world. For reasons best known to God, Christians in our corner of the world have staggering resources by comparison. Which gives us an unusual opportunity to use our wealth to “abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8).
So, when was the last time you viewed your financial resources as a tool to “support your habit”? Welcome to the joy of the generous habit of advancing the cause of Christ with the resources He has generously poured out to you!
- How would you gauge your attitude toward giving? Does it tend to reflect more of a “Jesus-tax” attitude, or are you enjoying the privilege of giving with joy?
- How have you seen God’s faithfulness in providing for you and your family during seasons of less financial prosperity?
- Why is it sometimes difficult to focus on advancing the kingdom when we are prospering materially? How can our attitudes better reflect Paul’s instruction in 2 Corinthians 9:8?