THE SERVANT GENERAL
TO GIVE IS TO RECEIVE
June 15, 2011
Today’s reading: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11
We are supposed
to support our Christian community and our Catholic
parish with our finances. And while God speaks about
the necessity of giving a tithe and calling those
who do not do so as thieves, we should not find
financial giving as a burden. Rather, it is a great
privilege that we can support God’s mission
with our money. Thus Paul tells the Corinthians
that their financial support should be looked on
“as a bountiful gift and not as an exaction.”
(2 Cor 9:5b).
Paul then proceeds
to explain what our proper attitude should be.
First, Paul speaks about a basic principle of financial
giving: “whoever sows sparingly will also
reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will
also reap bountifully.” (2 Cor 9:6).
Look at it this
way: God pours out blessings upon His people. But
He also wants many others to know Him and to become
part of His family. This happens as they are evangelized
and formed. But that can only happen if there are
evangelizers and pastors and many other workers,
which in turn can only happen in a significant way
if there is money to spend for the work. Consider
stipends of catechists, salaries of full-time workers,
expenses of an office, travel allowances, rental
of venues, etc. (Note: Paul himself did not charge
for his work, and in fact was scrupulous in funding
his own way.).
So the great and
wonderful work of God in bringing His people to
salvation and eternal life has, by His own decision,
been made dependent on the money His people give.
So while God will not withhold needed blessings
on all His people, He will bless more those who
provide for the financial needs of His body on earth,
the Church. The extent of our giving in a way determines
the extent of our receiving.
This spiritual principle
had been experienced by people through the ages,
and even found itself in the scriptures. “One
man is lavish yet grows still richer; another is
too sparing, yet is the poorer. He who confers benefits
will be amply enriched, and he who refreshes others
will himself be refreshed.” (Prv 11:24-25).
Now God Himself
is even clearer about the giving-receiving principle.
“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse,
that there may be food in my house, and try me in
this, says the Lord of hosts: Shall I not open for
you the floodgates of heaven, to pour down blessing
upon you without measure?” (Mal 3:10). When
one gives not just some amount, but the full 10%
of his income, God will not just give some blessing,
but pull out all the stops and open the floodgates!
Jesus in turn says
it this way: “Give and gifts will be given
to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken
down, and overflowing, will be poured into your
lap.” (Lk 6:38a). There you have it again:
overflowing, like floodgates opened, with blessings
poured down without measure. Then Jesus reiterated
the spiritual principle: “For the measure
with which you measure will in return be measured
out to you.” (Lk 6:38b).
Could it be that
many Christians today face financial difficulties
simply because they have not recognized or lived
out this principle? They claim not to have enough
for their own needs, and so do not give what they
ought to give back to God. But in doing so, they
help perpetuate their lack of money and continuing
need. This is why God issues a challenge: “try
me in this.”
Second, when we do decide to give, it should not
be looked on as an exaction, something we are forced
to do, but a great privilege, as our contribution
to the very divine work of God. Think about it.
God, who owns the whole universe, who needs nothing
from anyone, has made Himself dependent for His
divine work upon us and our financial giving. Wow!
That is some responsibility. That is an awesome
So Paul instructs:
“Each must do as already determined, without
sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful
giver.” (2 Cor 9:7). Some Christians give,
but grudgingly, or at the very least without joy.
But why should that be? Why should we be sad if
God gives us such a great privilege? God loves a
cheerful giver precisely because He can see that
the giver appreciates the privilege. Because now
His work on earth can be done. Because now He has
the excuse to open the floodgates of blessings,
which is what He greatly desires to do.
Thirdly, God gives an assurance of another spiritual
principle, that of sufficiency and abundance. When
we think we do not have enough money (which is what
most people think, no matter what their economic
status in life is), giving to the Church often becomes
the last priority. We justify this by saying we
need to eat, to care for our family, to have a comfortable
home, and so on. So that is what we prioritize.
However, even as our income rises, we also improve
our standard of living, and so what we earn is always
still not enough to cover our expenses.
How do we get out
of that vicious cycle? Well, a simple way is simply
a decision to make our giving (tithe or otherwise)
the first priority, and then live on what is left.
When we do that, here is what God promises, as Paul
assured: “Moreover, God is able to make every
grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always
having all you need, you may have an abundance for
every good work.” (2 Cor 9:8). Do you believe
God is all-powerful? Well, He is able to make every
grace abundant for you! Wow! What an assurance!
And what is the
practical result? You will always have all that
you need! All that you need! Always! God says so!
That is sufficiency. But there is more. You will
have an abundance for every good work. You will
have an abundance because God will pour out His
bountiful blessings. And God wants you to continue
your good work and your support of good works. “You
are being enriched in every way for all generosity”
(2 Cor 9:11a). Given what God wants to happen in
the world, and what He desires to be accomplished
through us and our financial support, God then will
Himself provide for what is needed for that to happen.
This is who our God is: “The one who supplies
seed to the sower and bread for food will supply
and multiply your seed and increase the harvest
of your righteousness.” (2 Cor 9:10).
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than
to receive.” (Acts 20:35b). Rightly so. And
we should not give simply because we expect to receive
even more in return. But know what? God is never
outdone in generosity. We give, because we need
to, out of our gratitude to God and our commitment
to His work. But whether we expect it or not, God
will indeed pour out His bountiful blessings upon
us. You can count on that.