The grace of giving

Peter Tibbott

The bible talks about money a lot, yet it’s something Christians often don’t want to talk about, or even think about – and for mostly good reasons, too. But if the bible gives so much attention to the way we use our wallets, shouldn’t we give it much more careful thought?

Clearly money itself is not evil – rather, it’s the human heart that desires more and leads to a rejection of God’s generous provision and ultimately God himself (Matthew 6:21, 24; 1 Timothy 6:10). Yet we often recoil at the prospect of talking about or thinking about our giving.

That’s not the way the Apostle Paul saw it. In 2 Corinthians 8 and 9, Paul shows the churches in Greece what godly giving looks like: a means of God’s grace.

'And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people.  And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 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 8:1-7)

The Macedonian church didn’t have much – in fact, they were in extreme poverty. Yet Paul holds them out as an example to the Corinthian church. What the Macedonians had, they gave to the gospel. They didn’t store up what little cash they had in savings, but gave it away. In doing this, God worked through needy people to advance the Kingdom of God. Truly an act of God’s amazing grace!

Paul wanted to show the Corinthian church that to give to the work of the gospel is to enjoy the grace of God. Not only does God supply all we need in the first place, but he gives us this so that we can give it away:

'You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.' (2 Corinthians 9:11)

This message today is completely counter-cultural. After all, why would anyone give away what they have worked hard to earn? God gives us what we have so that we can give generously. Whether we consider ourselves wealthy or poor, God’s plan for our money is not to line our own pockets but to use it to enjoy and participate in the grace of God.

As we pray that the Lord would send more workers into his harvest field, we need to acknowledge how God works this out practically when he answers these prayers. He does this through the generous and gracious giving of the money that he has lent to his people in the first place.

For a mission partner overseas, the money used to pay for flights, medical insurance, food and rent does not come from an invisible pool of resources or from an altruistic government. This money comes from the generosity of Christ’s Church – the people he redeemed when he gave his life on the cross for them.

God doesn’t need your money. He will advance the work of the gospel around the world regardless of how generous or sparing we are. But he wants to remind us of the grace we have been shown in Christ and the grace we enjoy every day from our loving Heavenly Father.

'What an awesome privilege we have in helping others right across the world to give glory to God. Releasing more of the money which he has entrusted to us as stewards will end in this. And to increase thanksgiving to God for the sake of his own glory is surely our highest goal.'
(The Grace of Giving – John Stott)

Click here to read about the joy of giving.