Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:10-15
For some time we have been talking about the MINISTRY OF GIVING. Paul said back in verse 7, Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us —I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. Literally in the Greek it is just one work ‘charis’…it would read ‘excel in this grace.’ The grace that Paul is speaking of is the act of giving. You cannot separate grace from giving.
In verses 10-15, we will look for the characteristics of GRACE GIVING.
I. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF SPIRITUAL DEVOTION
The Corinthians wanted to be a part of the benevolent offering that was going to Jerusalem and they began the project with great enthusiasm but they fizzled out. Paul reminds them that it was there idea to get in on this project but they needed to finish what they had started. In essence, they promised to give to the Jerusalem project but they never followed through. Paul here challenges them to keep their promise.
It is not always so, but giving should be an act of worship. It should be a show of devotion, a proof of sincere love. The Corinthians need to give was as great as the Jerusalem’s need to recieve. The Dead Sea is not a giver. All the Dead Sea does is recieve. It is located in a crater 1,400 feet below sea level, and then it is another 1,000 feet to the bottom. It is the deepest salt lake in the world. There are no channels leading out, no way for it to flow or overflow and thus you have a dead sea, a lifeless body of water. It cannot refresh, not can it provide food.
Dr. Warren Wiersbe says there are two kinds of giving,  Hand giving and  Heart giving. A house wife asked her husband for the weekly expense money but it slipped his mind. He thought of it when they got to church and during the service he handed her a hand full of money they she didn’t look at or count. She thought he gave her the money for the offering so she put the whole amount in the plate. When the service was over, they discovered what they had done. They didn’t know whether to panic, to ask for some of the money back or to laugh. They decided to laugh. The husband said, “At least God will give us credit for the full amount.” Dr. Wiersbe’s question was, “Will God give them credit for what they gave or what they intended to give.”
What if someone is in the service and they don’t have anything to give? Let’s suppose they want to give very much but have no ability: will God give them credit for their intentions? I think He can because He knows are true intentions. In this sense, a gift from the heart is better than one from the hand.
God sees the proportion, not the portion. He sees not only what we give but what we have left after giving but more importantly, He sees the heart, our motive for giving. Remember, “Motive is everything to God.”
When a person refuses to get involved in the ministry of giving, who do they hurt most? Think about it! They hurt themselves because they become a vertual dead sea, taking but never giving.
II. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF THE WILL
Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. [v.11]
This word ‘eager’ or ‘eagerness’ is an interesting word, the Greek word is prothymia. Pro is a preposition meaning ‘before’ and ‘thymos’ means heat. Paul is saying: let your giving be pre-heated. I am not much of a baker but my wife is and she pre-heats the oven before she puts the cake in. In other words, as a conscious act of the will, she gets the oven ready to bake by pre-heating the oven. This is the way we are to give: we are to think things through and make a conscious decision as to what we are going to give and then give it willingly and according to plans.
Some have suggested that the giving here [v.13-14] is referring to communism [Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. ] They also refer to Acts 4:32 [Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common] However, this is not communism because, the giving is all voluntary. People are giving as an act of the free will. Giving, in the body of Christ, is never to be forced. Resist all forms of high-pressure in the matter of giving. God is not the author of forced giving. Dr. Wiersbe said, “I have put my offering back in my pocket after hearing a supposed man of God us high pressure tactics.” Mark Twain said, “I was so sick of the appeal that not onldy did I not give what I intended to give, I took a bill out when the plate came by.”
One of our deacons said just days ago that he was mystified at the way our church gives to evangelist. We had evangelist back to back on the second and third Sundays of the month and both got great offerings, over $5,000 and we are a small church. Our total budget is less than $8,000 per week. I used no pressure whatsoever.
Some years ago, our church was in a joint venture with our Association and a certain pastor who thinks he is gifted in rasing money did one of these high pressure jobs and many of our folks were offended. They used this as an excuse to stay away. When the same project came up the following year, they ask me to be the finance chairman. I said, “Under one condition, I promote the offering and no high pressure will be used.” I kept my word but it was no use, the damage had been done. I firmly believe that where God guides He will provide. In the old days, I got a bigger hammer but I have learned that God is speaking to us through peoples lack of interest. Either way, I will not use high pressure.
III. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF WISDOM [Common Sense]
“I thought Jesus asked the Rich Young Ruler to give everything he had.” You are right, He did but Jesus knew that money was his god. Jesus didn’t ask the rich women who traveled with him and supported him financially to give all they had. Why not?
If you give all you have [not saying don’t, I’m saying make sure God told you to do it] it is a one time gift. Once you do it, your giving days are over. You can take a vow of poverty but that moves you from the giving line to the recieving line. Personally, I hope God allows me to stay in the giving line but use your common sense, those who have nothing can give nothing. You cannot give what you do not have.
At least 20 years ago probably longer, a Benedictine Monk rode to Washington D.C. with me and back. To be a Benedictine Monk, you take a vow of poverty. Some one from the monostery drove him to Hartselle and dropped him off at the shell station near the interstate. I picked him up there and he didn’t have a cent on him. DBC furnished the vehicle, I paid for the gas, his meals and his motel room. You say, “Actually, God used you to pay for his meals, motel and transportation.” To that I would agree but the point is, someone has to be a giver for this thing to work.
IV. GRACE GIVING IS AN ACT OF FAITH
By the way, if I understand correctly, heaven is just one big Christmas, recieving every day. Of course that is a figure of speech, no days in heaven, no hours or minutes.