Robesonian

Learning to give with a willing mind

2 Corinthians 7:7-15

Everything we have belongs to God, so what kind of stewards are we with the blessings He has given?

In 2 Corinthians 7 the apostle Paul was asking for a donation to the Jerusalem Christians, and he began his appeal by pointing out the generosity of the churches in Macedonia. Describing their liberality, Paul said the grace of God was bestowed on those churches.

The Macedonian churches were undergoing a time of affliction, yet they gave cheerfully to the Jerusalem Christians in the belief that God would take care of them even in the depths of poverty. How could churches in Macedonian or anywhere else exhibit such charity? Paul said they “first gave their own selves to the Lord.”

There is nothing better that people can do with their lives than to give themselves to God, and when that happens, it makes room for God’s grace to be bestowed in their hearts.

Paul said the Corinthians excelled in so many ways. They were people of faith, and there were gifted speakers among them. The apostle commended them for their knowledge, their enthusiasm and their love. Now, Paul desired for them to be able to excel in charity.

He did not command them to give, but he did ask them to look at the example set by other Christians. “Prove the sincerity of your love,” Paul said. Denying help to someone in need is a good indication the love is not genuine.

Having first given the Macedonian churches as examples of Christian charity, Paul reminded the Corinthians of what Christ Jesus gave to us. Jesus left the glory and riches of heaven to live as a human on earth. He was a poor man, yet Paul said it was because of His poverty that believers are rich. Our wealth lies in the forgiveness of sins because Christ Jesus gave His life for us on the cross. We also have a wealth of hope because Jesus rose to live again.

The Corinthian Christians were able to give money for the Jerusalem Christians, and had taken up a collection a year before Paul wrote this letter. Rather than sending the money, they held it, and Paul advised them to finish what they had started.

Paul teaches that giving is not a burden, but a joy if we give with Christ Jesus in our minds and hearts. Everything we have comes from and belongs to the Lord, and we give from what we have been given. We should give without the expectation of getting anything in return.

Paul talked about “equality” in giving. At the time, the Corinthians’ abundance would supply the needs of other people, but the roles might be reversed in the future and the Corinthians could be beneficiaries of the people they helped.

Perhaps we have only a little from which we will give an offering. What does God think about that small amount? If there is “first a willing mind,” Paul said, “it is accepted according to that a man hath.” In other words, God understands. He does not expect us to give what we do not have.

God takes care of each individual’s needs. When the Jews were in the wilderness, God sent manna to keep them fed. With the exception of the day before the Sabbath, they were supposed to gather only what they needed for the day, but some gathered more. Any manna left over until the following day was filled with maggots.

In this, God teaches us to trust Him to supply our needs. If we really trust Him, we will be faithful stewards of His blessings.

The Sunday school lesson is written by Ed Wilcox, pastor of Centerville Baptist Church. He can be reached at edwilcox@nc.rr.com.