Chapters 8 and 9 of 2 Corinthians are two of my most favourite chapters in the whole Bible. They are all about giving generously, gladly. They are about thinking of our planned and cheerful giving as 'sowing spiritual seed' which will bear much spiritual harvest.
Paul held up the Macedonian church as an example, for though they were very poor, they had a great desire to help the needy Christians in Jerusalem, and had given themselves and then, also sacrificially from their meager resources.
He encouraged the Corinthian believers to follow their example and start setting aside and bringing in what they could on the first of the week. Week by week that could grow so that when Titus arrived, whom Paul sent to the Corinthians, they would have a generous combined gift to send along with him to the needy believers in Jerusalem.
Not all Christians understand the value of this idea of setting aside small, manageable amounts week by week. When they are added up, they turn out to be a sizable gift.
When I was caring for my parents I had no regular income. I lived by faith in God. I remember a week when I only earned $5.00 from an elderly lady in our town who called to ask me to help wash her hair and put rollers in her hair. Going home I thought, a tithe of $5.00 is only .50; what a pathetic amount to give the Lord in church the next morning.
However, I put that .50 in an empty baking soda can which was wrapped in shiny paper. After a few weeks of adding to it, I saw that now I had a gift that was able to accomplish more.
To this day I like to do my bookkeeping on Friday nights, so that I know what came in and what I paid out, recording the amounts in my record keeping system, and setting aside my tithes and offerings. Accounting is not my forte, but I can manage it on this scale. This way I can be a giver out of small meager incomes, and grow with it so that I can be entrusted by God with larger amounts in my stewardship. My hope is that when the Lord entrusts me with much larger incomes and giving amounts, He will also provide a trustworthy bookkeeper!
So what about your giving as a believer and as a church congregation? Do have a plan for how much to set aside regularly?
Even before that, do you have a willingness to give and share with others in need? Those in need of physical food, and also those who need spiritual food - the gospel - which leads to eternal life?
God has given us so much, and according to 2 Corinthians 8:10, we can count on Him to supply even the resources we need to sow for a larger spiritual harvest, "Now 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. 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."
I heartily recommend that you study 2 Corinthians, chapters 8 and 9. If you have any desire to be generous to others, these chapters will encourage you and teach you some valuable principles.
This series of articles was intended to help those who are struggling to raise funds. It may seem that I've just been addressing individuals and congregations about giving on a regular basis. But an obvious corollary of this for those in missions and ministries that seek faithful supporters, is that you need to be connected to one or more strong Christian churches, where the members understand these principles of giving and building up support funds.
However, "out of sight, out of mind," right? So keep in touch with them even while you are away at your place of ministry. Send letters and emails and photos so that they get a sense of what God is doing through you, where you work, and they will want to become a part of that. When you return to visit them, the believers in those churches will welcome you as a dear friend, whom they know and love and trust, and your support funds will come in generously as planned and cheerful giving!
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