A daily devotion for September 20th
16I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men.
22In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.
1There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. 2For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. 3But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to say anything about you—would be ashamed of having been so confident. 5So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.
6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever." 10Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
12This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. 14And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (2 Corinthians 9:8)
True giving must be expectant. You are dealing with God, and He is able to give back. Many people get nervous about this. They say,
That is giving in order to be given to. That is selfish giving. I would grant that it is possible to view giving to God selfishly, but there is nothing wrong with recognizing that you will be benefited by your giving, because the Word everywhere tells us that. If you do not give, something happens to you. The boundaries of your experience are narrowed and reduced and you become a tight, stingy, Scroogelike person.
But, on the other hand, those who learn to give, and give for right reasons, become generous, gracious, godly-minded people. That is what Paul is talking about here. God is able to give back. It is not wrong for you to give with that recognition in mind, for everything we have ultimately comes from Him. When you eat a loaf of bread, you ought to remember the steps in producing it: the snowy flour, the mill, the field of wheat, the rain, and the Father's will. Therefore, everything comes from His hand.
If you give in order that you might have more to give, you are right in line with God's program. Yet your motivation should not be to spend on yourself. If you give so that there will be more for you to enjoy, then you are giving for wrong reasons. A lot of Christians are being taught that today. God delights to give, but His return is not always, by any means, material return. That is what the next verses show us:
You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God (2 Corinthians 9:11-12).
Paul is saying that if you give according to the law of harvest, God will give back. And this is the form it will take: It will awaken gratitude in those to whom you give. In our church we have had the joy on many occasions of witnessing people publicly giving thanks, sometimes with tears running down their faces, for the way others have responded to their physical or material needs. I am delighted at that. It is a wonderful repayment for our giving, isn't it, to see people helped, blessed, and moved to give thanks for that.
Lord, indeed I have received much at Your hand. I did not deserve it, but it was given to me in Jesus Christ. May that free giving on Your part stimulate me to meet needs around me. Help me look for places to give, knowing that it increases my joy and delights Your heart.
Life Application: Grace-giving is a miracle that mirrors God's character. Are we therefore intent on knowing the Giver of such a radical gift?
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Copyright © 2007 by Elaine Stedman — This daily devotion is from the book The Power of His Presence: a year of devotions from the writings of Ray Stedman; compiled by Mark Mitchell. It may be copied for personal non-commercial use only in its entirety free of charge. All copies must contain this copyright notice and a hyperlink to www.RayStedman.org if the copy is posted on the Internet. Please direct any questions you may have to webmaster@RayStedman.org.