One would think that a person who ‘gives freely‘ may eventually come to poverty. However, we often see the exact opposite happening. Why do the generous gain more? I think the answer lies in this verse below. It is in response to generosity that God gives the following promise:
And 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 9:8) NLT
This does not mean we give because God will now ‘owe’ us something. We give freely because we love Him and love for God inevitably evokes love for people. There is no man more generous than a man in love. So it is for us spiritually as well. Because of our overwhelming love for Him, we are inspired to generosity. Not because we expect anything in return, but because we want to do it.
We must understand that ‘giving freely‘ does not mean giving irresponsibly. It is a well thought-through and prayed-over decision for the believer. Paul wrote that a man who does not care for his own family is worse than an unbeliever. This means, of course, that we have to ensure we have our priorities straight before we give freely. We cannot give while our own families are suffering want.
For a believer, then, giving is not a mindless and reckless exercise. As we are led by the Spirit in everything else, we are also blessed to be led by the Spirit in our giving. Praying that God will guide our steps in this regard, will bring rewards for us and our children and happiness and gratitude in the hearts of those who receive.
God knows who needs what and He knows exactly when they need it. By trusting Him to show us where and how we may give, we can be assured that our giving will never lead us to poverty. As freely as Jesus moved through His days, tending to needs as He met them on His way, so we may move freely and trust the Lord will guide us those who need our help. We cannot help everyone, but God will show us the ones He decided we could help. Remember also that giving must never be a religious exercise. Scripture teaches that God loves a cheerful giver, not someone giving out of compulsion.
You 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.” 2 Corinthians 9:7 NLT
To ‘withhold unduly‘ refers to failure to pay debts. When we owe someone, even if the money is still in our hands, it is strictly speaking not our money. It belongs to another and if we use it for any other purpose than to pay the person, we are actually stealing that money. We have gone back on our word. Jesus taught us that our ‘yes’ must be yes and our ‘no’ remain no. Anything other than this, He says, comes from the evil one. In other words, if we owe a person money and we have that money, anything that suggests we should put it to other use, is not from God, but from His enemy. The enemy knows that we will forfeit blessings, not for ourselves alone but also for our children, if we fail to pay our debts. We will ruin our reputation, our credibility, our integrity and above all our witness for Christ. By submitting to his suggestions we may find short term pleasure in that money, but it will have lasting consequences. It is no wonder then, that the proverb says the one who withholds unduly will come to poverty.
The Bible calls the act of giving a ‘grace’. Grace is God’s power to do the right thing. May we be given more and more grace to excel in giving.
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7)