Last Sunday I talked about how one of the things that makes gospel-motivated generosity distinct is that it is not motivated by self-interest. However, a friend who heard the sermon offered a gentle correction. She said that she and her husband give out of self-interest all the time: the desire to be free of the strangle of greed, the longing to experience personal freedom, and the pleasure of seeing what their giving creates. It’s very biblical to be motivated to give out of self-interest, she said, as long as what interests the self has been transformed by the Holy Spirit.
I am so grateful for her thoughtful correction. I think she’s exactly right and our passage this week testifies to this truth. The passage begins, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (v.6). When a farmer sows seed, he does not think of the seed that he sowed as lost or wasted. It is, rather, an investment in a future harvest. What he “gives” in the seed is motivated by a desire of what he will gain in the harvest. Paul applies this same principle to giving: anything we financially give as Christians is a spiritual investment in a future “harvest of righteousness” (v.10). Contrary to the trope “you can’t take it with you,” Paul seems to saying the opposite: you can! It all depends on how you choose to do your sowing: will you use your money to invest in things that will rot or things that will endure forever (see Luke 12:22-34). As Jim Elliot said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
In preparation for Faith Commitment Sunday, would you take some time to pray, to talk with those in your household, and prepare for what you will financially commit to the Lord and our community in the coming year? Perhaps spend some time meditating on this verse from our passage:
“Each person should give what they have decided in their heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
Our weekly worship guide can be downloaded here.
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!