By Sam Greer
Senior Pastor, Red Bank Baptist Church, Chattanooga
In a report released by Oxfam, an international charity dedicated to finding solutions to global poverty, the richest 80 people on earth are now as wealthy as the world’s 3.5 billion poorest people. To put this into perspective, 80 people control as much wealth as half the population of planet earth. One of these multi-billionaires enjoys playing basketball on one of his luxurious yachts. Following closely behind this multibillionaire’s yacht is a powerboat to retrieve any balls that bounce over the railing.
Having that much money may be hard to imagine. Truth is, what matters is not how much money one may or may not have; rather, what matters is how one spends one’s money. Regardless of what value lies in our wallets, we show what we value with our wallets. Furthermore, how we give with our hands shows what we value in our heart. Paul encouraged the believers in Corinth to take up a generous collection for their fellow believers in Jerusalem. In 2 Corinthians 9:1-15, the Holy Spirit gives three principles of giving faithfully.
First, you “mite” not be generous enough. Paul urged the Corinthian believers to take up the collection before he and some of the Macedonians arrived (II Corinthians 9:4-5). The apostle bragged about the generosity of the Corinthian believers but he also encouraged them to follow through generously (II Corinthians 9:2-3). Are you being generous enough? Is your generosity generous? Why is this an important question?
Jesus is paying attention to your generosity or lack thereof. As Jesus watched the people put money into the offering box, he saw her. A poor widow approached the offering box and dropped in two small copper coins (Mark 12:41-44). The widow’s offering or widow’s mite, although small, was recognized by Jesus as the the most generous offering. Why? The widow gave out of her poverty, while the others gave out of their abundance. Examine your giving! You mite not be generous enough!
Second, an ungenerous heart mutes generosity. Generosity is not about what is in your bank account, it is about what is in your heart. At the heart of generosity lies a generous heart (II Corinthians 9:7). At the same time, an ungenerous heart mutes generosity. Paul explained to the Corinthian believers the biblical principle of sowing and reaping (vv. 6-11). He didn’t shy away from telling these believers the benefits of generosity. Believers who practice generosity bless other people which in turn produces thanksgiving to God. What you keep is never kept and what you give away never goes away!
Third, generosity’s mate is God’s grace. The most generous people on planet earth should be Christians. David Jeremiah has said: “The most generous gifts should be given by Christians because Christians have received the most generous gift.” Justice is I get what I deserve. I hit you and you hit me back. Mercy is I don’t get what I deserve. I hit you and you refrain from hitting me. Grace is I get what I don’t deserve. I hit you, you refrain from hitting me and you take me out for a steak dinner. God gave us the most generous gift of grace by giving His Son to die in our place instead of us. Paul described God’s gift of grace as indescribable (II Corinthians 9:15).
Paul described the Corinthian believers’ generosity as a direct result of them receiving the gospel of God’s grace. If you are not practicing generosity, then you need to examine whether or not you have received the gospel.