Giving money to the work in God’s kingdom is one of those practises that have characterised the poorest and richest of saints throughout the world’s history. Not all the faithful have given the same amount, but they have all given with the same attitude.
In 2 Corinthians 8:2 we read how the Macedonian Christians gave with overflowing generosity, and according to 8:7 the Corinthians Christians were encouraged to give with excellence.
Excellence is a rich word to describe the giving of Christians to the work of ministry.
The first excellent attitude of Godly Giving is to give generously.
How is it that both the poor Macedonians, and the wealthier Corinthians, not to mention the missionary-budget brothers and Titus, how is it that they all could give so generously? The key is found in a little observational word of wisdom from Proverbs 13:7 “One pretend to be rich, yet has nothing; another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.” If you live poorer than you earn, then generosity is easy, and giving when the need arises is no effort at all.
The second excellent attitude of Godly Giving is to give selflessly.
In Acts 20:35 Paul quotes Jesus who said “it is more blessed to give than to receive” – and for those who understand Biblical giving, the giving is the blessing, and no more blessing is coveted. 2 Corinthians 8:5 says the Macedonians gave not only money, but gave themselves – first to the Lord, then also to the service of the missionaries. 2 Corinthians 9:5 talks about giving in terms of “a willing gift” not a forced “obligation” (ESV, NKJV) or act of “covetousness” (NAS, KJV). Give selflessly, don’t selfishly build bigger barns like the rich fool in Jesus’ parables.
The third excellent attitude of Godly giving is to give resolutely – give with resolve.
A year before any specific need was mentioned, the Corinthians had already resolved to give. They were ready at all times to give – even when there was no need; when a need came, then they gave what they had been ready to give all along. Five times in 2 Corinthians 9:1-5 the word “ready” appears, and five times the idea of resolve appears with words like “boast”, “zeal”, “confident” and “promised”. The godly know that a resolution always to be giving, long precedes any opportunity to give. Give with predetermined resolve.
The next, and fourth, excellent attitude of Godly giving is to give sensibly.
Give sensibly, or give in fairness – don’t give out of misplaced guilt. It is Biblically not right for struggling missionaries to entertain the unyielding rich with pictures from faraway lands. Show some Biblical common sense – give sensibly. In 2 Corinthians 8:13-15 Paul told the Corinthians that giving ought to be “a matter of fairness”, for them who had more, to give to the Jerusalem church that was struggling financially. It is a matter of fairness that the rich Christians give for the help of the destitute Christians. Give sensibly.
And lastly, the fifth excellent attitude of God giving is to give cheerfully.
2 Corinthians 9:6-7 “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Giving and joy have an odd relationship. Nobody is as miserable as Scrooge when he has to part with a coin; yet, nobody is more joyful than a cheerful giver. Joyless giving robs you of any other joy you might have; Joyful giving produces in you even more joy. One just needs a little kick-start to get into the right cycle. Give cheerfully.
These are five summary attitudes of excellent godly giving.