Note: This message was preached in the context of an English Worship service in Gwacheon Yaksu Presbyterian Church in South Korea. It was rewritten for online readers. The basic premise in this message is that the reader has a personal relationship with the the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord. If you do not believe in God and do not accept the fact that God sent His Son into this world to redeem humanity from the power of sin, this message is inapplicable to you. The blogger acknowledges the fact that for a person who does not believe in the existence of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, a change of heart must first take place before that person will have the ability to accept and understand the truth of this message. And only the Spirit of God can do that.
South Korea is a generous country. Despite of the incident in 2010 about North Korea bombing one of the islands of South Korea and the alleged sinking of navy ship that caused the death of 46 sailors, still the latter offered assistance in 2011 worth 5 billion won ($4.4 million) for North Korean children. In fact, prior to 2008, South Korea was giving 500,000 tons of rice and 300,000 tons of fertilizer to North Korea per year. It was only stopped due to nuclear weapon issue.
Note: I consider the above pictures as part of public domain for I obtain them through Google images.
I think the Korean Christians serve as the model for such generosity. The pictures shown above are just three examples of places of worship under the Presbyterian Church of the Philippines, which had been built due to the generous gifts of Korean Christians. More than 200 of these structures for worship are now established throughout the archipelago.
However, the present global economic landscape turned out to be a serious challenge to Korea’s generosity. Amidst economic and financial uncertainty, it appears that Christians now have a sufficient reason to stop being generous.
In the Bible, we read stories of individuals and churches who still give generously despite of economic difficulties. The Macedonian churches serve as typical examples of such generosity (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). These churches still excelled in giving even in the midst of extreme poverty. Financial hardship therefore is no excuse for not giving generously.
The apostle Paul talked about giving generously in 2 Corinthians 9:8. Generous giving is all about voluntary giving; it is a giving that is cheerful and out of gratitude to God. God loves that kind of giver.
In this Bible reflection, I would like to answer the question “Why God wants you to give generously despite of your financial situation?” Reading the word of God, I came up with three answers:
1. God wants to provide for you – “so that in all things at all times, having all that you need…”
The apostle Paul states the immediate result of abundant grace: satisfying our needs in all things at all times. Those whom God satisfies their needs express their gratitude to God by giving generously. Failure to give generously therefore is a way of saying that God failed to satisfy your needs. In fact, God wants to provide for all your needs.
God knows that you need food and clothing, love and attention, provision for your children’s education, health care, and for some, a thriving business. Meeting these needs, God wants you to express your thanksgiving through generous giving.
By nature, we are all acquisitive, close-fisted, selfish, and greedy. We do not think of others; we only think of ourselves; and we tend to complain always that our needs have not been sufficiently met.
We are blind to the fact that God has faithfully provided for our needs. But regardless of God’s provision, we remain dissatisfied. As a result, we fail to be grateful to God. And instead, the words that come out of our mouths are all complains and bitterness.
If God loves a cheerful giver, I think God hates a complainer. He hates the ungrateful.
A complainer as prophet Isaiah told us will never experience the life of a soaring eagle (40:27-31). A complainer always sees the ugly things in life. He always sees the difficulty and never the opportunity. He could not see the good hand of God in His life. All he sees are his pain and bitterness, simply because he does not find his satisfaction in God.
A person who learns to be satisfied in God can always sing praises regardless of his financial condition. Paraphrasing what the apostle Paul told us, we must learn to be satisfied, in plenty or in want, in poverty or in wealth. Amen!
2. God wants to prosper you – “And God is able to make all grace abound to you…”
Here, the Spirit of God is telling us through the apostle Paul that a person who gives generously is someone who experiences the abundant grace of God in his life. In other words, only a person who lives the daily reality of God’s abundant grace can give generously.
Perhaps you may think that the apostle Paul here was only talking about spiritual blessing and not material or financial blessing. In fact, the context is very clear. He speaks about sowing and reaping in relation to finances and so it is just proper to think that the kind of abundance Paul was talking here includes also the material or financial harvest.
The opposite of generosity is being stingy. A stingy person is saying that the grace of God is either not actively working in him or insufficient for him. For a stingy person, the abundance of God’s grace is strange. He always sees lack and insufficiency and that is why he cannot give generously.
Notice also that giving generously is closely connected to our faith in God and His ability to prosper us or make His grace abound to us. Now the question is: do you really believe that God is able to make all grace abound to you? Is He really able to prosper you both spiritually and materially regardless of economic and financial situation? If you really believe that, your proper response is to be a generous giver.
Failure to give generously therefore is caused by unbelief in the ability of God to prosper you. And unbelief is sin. Failure to give generously is a way of saying that our way is better than God’s way. And we decided to choose our own way.
It is true that the abundant experience of God’s grace results into generosity, but it is also true that the more generous you are, all the more God will bless you. It is, as if, God’s way of blessing you, of making you prosper is for you to be a generous giver.
Our way of blessing ourselves is through hoarding, by taking more, by receiving always. We do not give generously for we think that we lose by giving. The fact is, that is the way of winning, to give generously. Amen!
Giving generously is not limited in finance. It can also be applied in terms of our talents and skills, love, time, attention, and care. The more we spend to educate other people, all the more we grow in knowledge and experience. The more we share our expertise to others, the more God equips us for further service.
Those who hoard their talents and skills because of fear of competition, because of insecurity are people who failed to see the reason why God gave them those gifts in the first place. So if you want to grow in knowledge, in skills, in talents, use them to empower other people, and as a result, you will be empowered all the more in return. Amen!
3. Because God wants you to be productive – “you will abound in every good work”
The apostle Paul ends the sentence about the ability of God to make His grace abundant in one’s life. And this is the long-term reason or result. If the immediate reason for the experience of the abundant grace of God is the provision of needs, the long-term reason is productivity – to “abound in every good work.”
You see here the correlation between God’s ability to make His grace abundant to you and His calling for you to be productive. They go hand in hand. You cannot be useful on your own. You cannot depend on your own strength. Certainly, you will be dissatisfied, bitter, and will soon get tired.
Yes, for a time, you can demonstrate a kind of service, but this service is deceptive for it is not coming from a heart full of joy. It is like the service of the older brother in Luke 15 who saw himself as a slave in his father’s house. He did not see himself as a son. For him, serving his father is tiresome. There is no joy in serving God.
Those who rely on their own strength have the above kind of mindset and attitude in serving God. If you have this kind of mentality, you cannot go on serving God.
The fact is, you need the abundant grace of God for you to become productive in his service. Only the grace of God that you experience in your life is the same grace that you will use in serving others. Amen!
Remember, the grace of God is abundantly given to you not for selfish enjoyment, but for the legitimate satisfaction of your needs and for you to also abound in His service.
In Israel, there are three interconnected bodies of water – the Lake of Galilee, the Jordan River, and the Dead Sea. We were told that the Lake of Galilee is “Israel’s largest fresh water reservoir, and is also the country’s largest and most important source of drinking water.” It is a source of livelihood for many. In a way, we could say that life in Israel would be extremely difficult without the Lake of Galilee. It never stops supplying fresh water. Its water flows through the Jordan River and stops at the Dead Sea. The generous giver is like that lake.
In today’s situation, economists are divided in their perspectives about the future direction of global economy. Some would say, that the 2008 recession was already finished and we are on our way to recovery. Others would say, “No, we haven’t solved our problems. We just magnify them. The worst is yet to come.” In fact, one economics commentator that I just recently read claimed that beginning 2013, we now have 15 years more for another major and far deeper economic crisis. This time its far worst and global; no country is exempted simply because the US dollar bubble is spreading throughout the world.
This is the reality of present day economy based on Austrian perspective. Personally, we do not know the precise time and anybody could say that the Austrian analysis is mistaken. How I wish it is really mistaken!
The important thing to bear in mind is that there is a higher reality. This reality is based on the word of God that even in time of economic crisis; God is able to prosper you as His people, to provide for you, and for you to remain productive in His service.
Remember that we have a generous God who gave us this world to provide for our needs, who gave His Only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord to redeem us from our sins, who gave us the Bible to guide us what to believe and how to live, and who sent the Holy Spirit to empower us in times of weaknesses and to encourage us when we are down and weak. We too, in the strength of the Spirit can imitate our God by becoming a generous giver! Amen!