A year before Paul wrote this letter to the church at Corinth, he had shared with them about the plight of the original church in Jerusalem. Because of persecution and famine the believers there were suffering and in need of aid. Paul had announced plans to collect a relief offering from the churches he had planted so that he could send it on to help their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. When the Corinthian believers heard this appeal they responded enthusiastically, promising to give a generous offering — but they had not fulfilled their promise.
In this chapter Paul explains that the reputation of the Corinthian church was on the line. If they procrastinated any longer in giving, not only would their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem remain at risk, but they themselves risked humiliation (v.4). Paul informed them that he was sending a delegation led by Titus to collect the offering they had promised (v.5; see 8:16-24). In the meantime, he gave the church at least four Holy Spirit-inspired principles of Christian stewardship, and they are as fresh and relevant today as they were in the 1st Century.
First, giving is an investment in God’s Kingdom. Our gifts to Kingdom causes are like the seeds a farmer plants in the ground (v.6). Farmers do not hoard their seeds, but they release them to be buried in the soil so that they can grow and yield a harvest. In the same way, when we invest our offerings into the Lord’s work we find that He not only brings a “harvest of righteousness” as the lost are saved and the church is strengthened but He also “multiplies our seed for sowing” (v.10).
Second, giving is a testimony that we believe the gospel. In verse 13 Paul makes it clear that when we give to the Lord’s work and the Lord’s workers, we make a statement about our personal need for the gospel (it has changed and is changing us) and the universal need for the gospel — everyone everywhere needs to hear about Jesus, and our generosity sends the gospel to the ends of the earth.
Third, giving is an act of worship that produces more worship. If worship is expressing our love and adoration to God, then giving is an act of worship when it is done with a willing, cheerful heart, and it evokes a love-response back from Him! “God loves a cheerful giver” (v.7), but it doesn’t end there. Every worshipful gift that meets a need in God’s Kingdom produces more worship on the receiving end: “all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God” (v.11). This is the miracle of generosity — your gift meets a need and then starts a wave of worship that overflows in “many thanksgivings to God” (v.12).
Fourth, giving is a response to the greatest gift of all, Jesus. God set the pace for all giving when He gave the precious gift of His Son. No one will ever give a gift of greater value or greater impact than the indescribable gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. When you join your church family in giving your offering in worship today, do it in response to — and as an expression of faith in — Jesus.