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October 19, 2010

Giving in Jesus

 Giving without Coveting Today

“So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness.”

2 Corinthians 9:5, page 1813

     My friends often ask me about tithing and giving.  They rarely ask me about bountiful giving, or the relationship between giving and coveting.  Paul addresses both of those questions in this passage. 

       In 2 Corinthians 9:5, page 1813, Paul has discussed the Corinthians’ promise of giving a big gift for the Jews in Jerusalem.  He he has also brought up the possibility that some Macedonians may drop by Corinth and find them unprepared to give.  So, Paul has taken the opportunity to urge the brethren to go before him to Corinth and make sure the Corinthians actually have the bountiful gift ready.

Principle of Giving:

When You Make Public Promises of Giving,

Be Ready for Spiritual Friends To Remind

You of Your Pledge

     Paul thought (“ἡγησάμην“) it necessary (“ἀναγκαῖον“) to urge (“παρακαλέσαι“) the brethren.   When Paul gave careful thought to the matter of the Corinthians being ready to give, he determined it necessary to urge his fellow believers to go before him to Corinth.   Because the Corinthians had already made a pledge of a bountiful gift (“εὐλογίαν“), Paul now takes deliberate steps to be sure the Corinthians fulfill their well-known pledge.   Paul did not want anyone to suffer shame by promising one thing, and then delivering something else.   When you make a public pledge of giving, be sure that you support the needy and or the missionary the church promised to support.  Furthermore, the size of the gift makes a difference.  When you pledge a bountiful gift, make sure the size of the gift matches the size of the pledge you made.  Your spiritual friends will help you overcome your coveting and increase your bountiful giving.

Principle of Giving:

When You Promise a Bountiful Gift,

Do Not Let Your Coveting Shrink the

Size of the Promised Gift

       For some believers, they think that every dollar they give away to the Lord and His work amounts to one more dollar they cannot spend on their own desires.  They covet the money for their own purposes.  In this verse, Paul addresses the specific problem of covetousness (“πλεονεξίαν“) and giving. Your coveting stands in direct opposition to the amount of your giving.  Coveting means that you want something that really belongs to someone else.  When you make a promise to give, you effectively have transferred that money already to the new owner.  No worries.  You prayed before you pledged, and you know that those funds will be used for a God’s purpose.  Therefore, your coveting desire to keep the money will not be a problem for you.  You know exactly how to deal with your coveting nature.  Please remember the story of Ananias and Sapphira, who sold their property, and lied to the Holy Spirit about the sale price, and tried to keep some of the money for themselves.  They had every right to keep some of the money, or all of the money, except they lied about their intentions.  On another level, they coveted the money, and lied to God about their gift (Acts 5:1-11, page 1707).

        ●   So, we learn some more about giving in Christ.

        ●  We learn that should be very careful about the money we pledge, especially when we make a public pledge of support.

      ●  We learn to expect our spiritual friends will hold us to our spiritual pledges of support.

       ●  We hinder giving when we let our own covetousness diminish the size of the gift we have pledged already.  

Application for Today

        Today, I want to give faithfully, and without any form of coveting.  I want to encourage my friends to give the work of Jesus Christ, and to give to people I have never met, but well known to people I trust.  Will you give today, with bounty, and without coveting?


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