The Benefits of the Grace of Giving

The Benefits of the Grace of Giving September 28, 2017


The Benefits of the Grace of Giving

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

Lois Cheney, in his book God is No Fool, shares the following story:

Once, a man said, “If I had some extra money, I’d give it to God, but I have just enough to support myself and my family.” And the same man said, “If I had some extra time, I’d give it to God, but every minute is taken up with my job, my family, my clubs, and what have you—every single minute.” And the same man said, “If I had a talent I’d give it to God, but I have no lovely voice; I have no special skill; I’ve never been able to lead a group; I can’t think cleverly or quickly, the way I would like to.”

And God was touched, and although it was unlike him, God gave that man money, time, and a glorious talent. And then He waited, and waited, and waited…..And then after a while, He shrugged His shoulders, and He took all those things right back from the man, the money, the time and the glorious talent. After a while, the man sighed and said, “If I only had some of that money back, I’d give it to God. If I only had some of that time, I’d give it to God. If I could only rediscover that glorious talent, I’d give it to God.”

And God said, “Oh, shut up.”

And the man told some of his friends, “You know, I’m not so sure that I believe in God anymore.”1

This is how many people think about giving to God. They first give excuses, God is still gracious and generous, and yet, dismiss Him. I want to challenge you this morning with the idea of giving. Many people don’t like pastors to talk about money. But the fact is that the Bible urges us to give our money to Him. In this case, Paul urges one church to give based on the example of another church. He urges the church of Corinth to give because the church of Macedonia gave.

The Bible challenges churches to give. Therefore, the Bible challenges individual Christians to give. The challenge is there. Yet, I want to show you the benefits to that challenge. Giving is itself an act of grace.

Grace (2 Corinthians 8:1, 2 Corinthians 8:6-7)

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia:” (2 Corinthians 8:1, CSB)

So we urged Titus that just as he had begun, so he should also complete among you this act of grace. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace.” (2 Corinthians 8:6–7, CSB)

The grace of giving is what this section is all about. The word charis (“grace”) occurs eight times in chapters 8–9. In fact, charis occurs five times in 8:1–9: in verse 1, “the grace,” ten charin; verse 4, “the favor,” ten charin; verse 6, “this act of grace,” ten charin; verse 7, “this act of grace,” ten chariti; and verse 9, “the grace,” ten charin. Paul’s teaching on giving is a sermon on grace from beginning to end.2

In this case, the “grace” is the money that is collected. Just as God gives out of His abundance to help someone else, you and I can give out of our abundance to help other people. 

It is called a “grace” because the money is not deserved. The person receiving the offering did not earn the offering. A person does not earn an offering. The purpose of an offering is to allow the giver to give freely.

It is a wonderful thing when Christians enter into the grace of giving, when they really believe that giving is more blessed than receiving. How can we tell when we are practicing “grace giving”? Paul indicated that there were a number of evidences that appear when our giving is motivated by grace.3

These verses show seven benefits of the grace of giving.


1. Joy in testing (2 Corinthians 8:2)

During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2, CSB)

These churches were being tested. They were going through trials. Each family had difficulties. Just like today, where each family may have struggles. Some of you may feel afflicted. Some of you may look at your bank account and think: “I am going to have a hard time to give.” Looking at your bank account, you may think that you can’t give. But the example of these families and this church in Macedonia should encourage you. 

Even if you are going through difficult times, God will still be faithful to you. He will still provide for you. As you notice that God still provides for you even though you are being afflicted. 

It’s hard when a family member gets sick and goes to the hospital. But you know what? God still provides. You think the bills are going to pile up. What do you notice? God still provides. Someone has something and gives it to you to provide for your needs. The next think you know, your bills are paid and you had more than you thought you had. That’s the abundance that God gives you, even when you are afflicted. 

2. Wealth through poverty (2 Corinthians 8:2)

During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2, CSB)

You don’t have much, but you are still rich. Your bank account looks empty, but your pantry is full. 

George Washington Carver wisely said, “How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving, and tolerant of the weak and the strong because someday in life, you will have been all of these.” Perhaps that is why poor people generally seem to have a greater ability to identify with those in need, have a greater longing for the coming of the kingdom of God, and, as a result, tend to release their finances more easily. Indeed, statistics bear out the fact that it is the poorer segment of any given congregation that supports the ministry.4

3. Sharing in the ministry (2 Corinthians 8:3-5)

I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will.” (2 Corinthians 8:3–5, CSB)

It’s ninety days until Christmas. I took one of my girls to Dollar Tree yesterday and we noticed that they had stuff ready for Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

At Christmas time our tendency is to spend more on presents for ourselves and family than we give to the Lord. And it has been estimated that the personal budget of most church folks for sporting events far exceeds gifts to religious and charitable causes.

For the most part, there’s little sacrifice or joy in our giving. But Paul lays down the principle that people who give generously out of love for the Lord and His church grow and mature in their faith because they don’t count the cost.5

4. Test of my love (2 Corinthians 8:8) 

I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love.” (2 Corinthians 8:8, CSB)

When I give, it tests my love for Jesus. A Christian proves their love for Jesus by the way they give. It reveals the genuineness of love.

Which brings us to the major implication: There is no way to grow to spiritual maturity without committing your finances to the Lord. Jesus can have our money and not have our hearts, but he cannot have our hearts without our money.

Money is so entwined with one’s soul. Some say that the average American spends 50 percent of his or her time thinking about money—how to get it, how to spend it. Whether the statistic is accurate or not, it is generally true. And it is also true that our handling of money defines our affections, the things we truly treasure, how tightly we are bound to the world, and so on.

In this, I would not be true to God’s Word or to you if I did not say that some of you may have reached sticking spots in your spiritual growth because you have not begun to give as the Scriptures and conscience are directing you. I’ve heard all the “reasons” why one can’t give. It’s too hard. You have so many obligations. You’ll begin when you get a full-time job. You’ll begin when the car is paid for. You’ll begin when the children are done with school. You’ll begin when you can really give something. You’ll begin with the next promotion. But God’s Word says to excel in this act of grace now.6

5. Proof of salvation (2 Corinthians 8:9) 

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9, CSB)

The grace of giving was first revealed in the life of Jesus. Jesus was rich. He was God’s Son. He resided in Heaven. When He came to Earth, He didn’t decide to be born in a rich palace. Instead, He chose to be born in a poor family.

Born in a borrowed cradle, Jesus preached from a borrowed boat, rode into Jerusalem on a borrowed donkey, ate His Last Supper in a borrowed room, and was buried in a borrowed grave. He who made everything laid it all down and entered into total poverty that I might be rich.7 The poverty of Jesus led my eternal wealth.

He made everyone rich but was in total poverty for his entire adult life. That should say something about our desire for money. We shouldn’t worry about it, and we shouldn’t seek it above anything else. This leads me to the next benefit of the grace of giving.

6. Increases my willingness to do God’s will (2 Corinthians 8:10) 

And in this matter I am giving advice because it is profitable for you, who began last year not only to do something but also to want to do it.” (2 Corinthians 8:10, CSB)

There is a great difference between promise and performance. The Corinthians had boasted to Titus a year before that they would share in the special collection (2 Cor. 8:6), but they did not keep their promise. Note that in 2 Corinthians 8:10–12 Paul emphasized willingness. Grace giving must come from a willing heart; it cannot be coerced or forced.8

7. My abundance provides for another in need, so that later their abundance provides for my need (2 Corinthians 8:11-15)

Now also finish the task, so that just as there was an eager desire, there may also be a completion, according to what you have.” (2 Corinthians 8:11, CSB)

This verse shows the command that Paul gives here. It is the only command in the entire two chapters that Paul talks about giving. The kind of giving Paul describes in proportionate. It is proportionate sacrificial giving. I give sacrificially, and that may be a different amount of money than someone else. The Bible doesn’t say that we should give equally. We are commanded to give equal sacrifice.

At the present time your surplus is available for their need, so that their abundance may in turn meet your need, in order that there may be equality. As it is written: The person who had much did not have too much, and the person who had little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:14–15, CSB)

This isn’t Robin Hood. God doesn’t steal from the rich and give to the poor. This isn’t socialism. God doesn’t give everyone the same amount. This is miraculous blessings. When I am need, God uses someone else to provide for my need. When someone else is in need, God uses me to help them. 

This is the basis for Cooperative Program. There are 48,000 Southern Baptist churches in the United States. Each alone cannot accomplish much, but together, they can accomplish great things. Each church sends a percentage to main office. Along with the Easter and Christmas offerings, this money is collected and used to support over 6000 missionaries around the world. The same is true with the Missouri Missions Offering. Every Missouri Baptist church collects this offering and this is used to support church planting and missions work around the state.

A Swedish man who planned a social experiment by posing as a homeless beggar and then giving passersby money back said his plan was foiled when no one offered him a donation. Konrad Ydhage planned to sit in a relatively affluent area and ask strangers for one Kronor (about 14 cents U.S.). He would reward people’s generosity by giving them back twice the money they gave him. Ydhage said the problem was no one offered him any money while he was begging on the streets. Rather than give up, Ydhage decided to move his experiment to a nearby neighborhood—a poor area populated mainly by immigrants. While begging in that neighborhood, he had the opportunity to reward 34 strangers who gave him money. Reflecting on the experience, Ydhage said, “It’s amazing how down I got after two hours in [the wealthy neighborhood]. I really got no reaction at all. It felt like they hated me. But in [the poorer area], the people were so kind. It felt like it confirmed my existence.”9

It doesn’t matter how much you make. It matters with how much grace you give.

1 Lois Cheney, God is No Fool, by Lois Cheney, 1969, Abindgon Press, Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations (Biblical Studies Press, 2002).

2 R. Kent Hughes, 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 157. 

3 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 655.

4 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1131.

5 Kenneth L. Chafin and Lloyd J. Ogilvie, 1, 2 Corinthians, vol. 30, The Preacher’s Commentary Series (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc, 1985), 255.

6 R. Kent Hughes, 2 Corinthians: Power in Weakness, Preaching the Word (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 159.

7 Jon Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2003), 1132.

8 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), 656.

9 Jim L. Wilson, “Rewarded for Giving to a Beggar,” in 300 Illustrations for Preachers, ed. Elliot Ritzema (Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2015).

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

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