6Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” 8And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8
This is what we would call an awkward conversation. Paul is following up with the church in Corinth on a financial commitment that they had made. It sounds like their initial pledge was very generous and inspired many other churches to give as well. Time has now passed and the gift has not yet been given. I really appreciate how Paul navigates this difficult subject by bringing it back to the heart. This isn’t about a financial obligation but a spiritual transformation that occurs when we give. No doubt Paul was remembering the words of Jesus who taught “where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” When Paul is saying “show me the money” he’s really saying “show me your heart”.
Pastor Wayne teaches that true obedience is following through on a decision long after the emotion of that decision has disappeared. This is true in every area of our lives. We are tested to keep trusting our Provider in decisions we have made relationally, vocationally, and financially. Money is a very sensitive issue and no one really wants to talk about it. I admire Paul’s boldness to wade right into the thick of as he sees the financial situation from a different angle. It’s not about how much we don’t have but how much we do have. It’s about moving from a mindset of scarcity and lack generosity and abundance. The more we give the more we receive. The more we sow the more we reap. We know these spiritual principles but living them out on a daily basis is really where the rubber meets the road of our faith. As a Pastor, I have had many of these awkward conversations with people especially regarding their commitment to tithe. Most of the time the argument to not tithe 10% isn’t about wanting to give more but less. When I read the New Testament I read of a challenge to give way more than 10%. That’s just a launching off point for our faith to step in generous provision Paul speaks of here. The tithe requires me to give without any strings attached. It’s not giving to my pet ministry or something that I control but rather to give to God and trust the leadership over me to steward it as He leads them. Can I do this cheerfully? Well, sometimes yes and sometimes no. Yet, even when I’m not feeling overly cheerful I’m compelled to give anyway because I’ve seen the truth of these promises my entire life. Thankfully my parents raised me to understand this principle when I was very young. I remember being the exact opposite of cheerful when I tithed off of my hard earned lawn mowing money. If I held on to that I could have bought that brand new G.I. Joe Helicopter complete with the action figure and realistic chopper sounds. I knew I’d have to wait a whole other month if I tithed. Yet, I knew that I couldn’t short change God or I’d be short changing myself. The truest test is no more poignant than in the area of finances.
Lord, I want to repent for the times when I have given out of tradition, obligation, or compunction but not from my heart. It’s the difference between planting a seed in good soil or just scattering it on the surface. You don’t want a religious giving, You want a relational one. You have always provided generously for all I have needed. Your track record is perfect in your provision. Let me not get offended when you ask me to show you my money above my tithes because it’s really You asking me for more of my heart. Let me follow through on the decisions to give that I have made no matter what my emotions are telling me at the moment. I just revel in that final promise of the generous life. “you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.” I am the happiest when I live in that beautiful place of contentment with you where I have everything I need (not everything I want) and I’m sharing what I have with those around me. When I become a conduit of blessing rather than cut-de-sac money simply becomes the means to know You more and show You more.