15 June 2011

"Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver." (v. 7)


The churches of Judea were poor and hungry and Paul was working to persuade the richer church in Corinth to help them. He appealed to them to be generous. For a chapter and a half he poured out reasons for generosity, and still he continues.

Paul's argument in these verses is: if you only give a little bit, you will only get a little bit back; but if you give a lot, you receive a lot. This is reminiscent of Jesus words about the person who gives, and receives back "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over" (Luke 6:38). He tells of both the goodness of God, and the good things that come from generosity.

This is a virtuous cycle of growth. Paul writes of God providing "every blessing in abundance", and God giving so that "you may share abundantly" (v. 8). God's generosity to the Corinthians means that they can be generous to someone else. Then they in turn will be "enriched in every way". That enrichment itself produces "thanksgiving to God" (v. 11).

If you give, it will not be money you receive back, but relationship. This is about the building of social capital, through the generosity of one community to another. First, God gives. As a result one community gives to another, and receives back much more: a wealth of love, gratitude and friendship. As a result, God is worshipped; thanksgiving pours out.

There is one proviso. The giving needs to be done willingly, "not reluctantly or under compulsion". The giving needs to be done, above all, cheerfully. When giving is a source of joy, then the virtuous cycle begins. God's goodness grows and grows.

To Ponder

In what ways can you invest in social capital?

To what extent are you able to give, and get richer in the giving?

Think back to an occasion when you gave, and got richer in the giving. What happened? How did it feel? What impact does it have on your life and discipleship today?

Bible notes author: The Revd Andrew Lunn

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