The Rewards of Giving
by Merryl Lentz
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Giving shouldn't be done with the goal of public proclamations of your generosity or the hopes that your name will become a household word. It's something that should be done from the heart, that elicits appreciation or something as simple as a smile. And giving should be done for the simple joy of the act, and the joy that it brings forth in others.
Love, and not the expectation of lavish rewards, should be the motivation for giving. You shouldn't be compelled to give in order to get something in return, or with the attitude of "What's in it for me?" One of our greatest human needs is to practice generosity. When we give, God fulfills all of our deepest needs.
The most contented and fulfilled people are the most generous ones. There is no gratification to be found in greed, hoarding, or withholding our generosity from others. Some of the most unhappy people in the world are those who will not give to God, or give in the name of God. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 Paul expounds upon the principle of sowing and reaping, saying, "Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." If we sow sparingly, we will reap just as sparingly, but by sowing with generosity, we also reap generosity.
The fact that you shouldn't give for ulterior motives doesn't mean that rewards are not attainable. While the driving force for giving shouldn't be rewards, there are definitely rewards to be had for faithful giving.
One of our greatest human needs is to practice generosity. As we give, God fulfills all of our deepest needs. One of those needs is to step out in faith and give generously. God has created us to be the most satisfied and fulfilled when we give. The world's happiest people are also the most generous.
Despite their severe poverty, the Macedonian Christians gave generously, and God filled their cupboards. In 2 Corinthians 8:14-15 Paul tells the Corinthians, "At the present time your plenty will supply what they [the Macedonians] need, so that in turn their plenty [the Macedonians] will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: 'He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.' " The Macedonians shifted from lack to abundance by exercising generosity. Their reward was that God provided for their physical needs.
In 2 Corinthians 9, at least seven rewards for giving are cited. One of the rewards stated in verse 6 is that you will receive unlimited blessings. Even the most profitable sweepstakes or money-making schemes have their limits, but this doesn't hold true for Christian giving. The amount of blessing that we reap is proportional to the manner of our sowing.
We are asked to sow "on the basis of blessings," meaning that we are doing things that bring assistance and happiness to other people. This does not necessarily involve money. It can be help given to a mother struggling to raise several children, or by helping a student study for final exams. Then, we ourselves will reap on the basis of blessings. In reward, we will receive limitless help and happiness that will bless us in tangible or intangible forms.
Verse 8 describes two other rewards of giving: Your needs will be met and you will have limitless resources for giving. God is very willing and able to provide us with everything required to meet our personal needs, as well as our needs for giving. However, the Scripture doesn't mention that God will give us all that we want. God knows us even better than we know ourselves, and his promise is to meet our true needs, and not our selfish desires. God provides all grace in all things at all times with all needs for all good works.
In this context, the word "grace" denotes that God provides us with supplies that don't just meet our material needs, but more strength, patience, understanding, love or courage. Everything you need as God's child, and anything you need for the responsibilities that God has placed upon you, are easily accessible. Keep in mind that this applies to rewards for Christian giving, and does not apply to miserly hoarders who aren't willing to share their time, talent and fortune.
In Verse 9 a fourth reward is stated: Your record of giving will endure forever. The records of this world's famous stars and heroes will be forgotten, but the record of those who simply gave of themselves will be remembered eternally. This verse is a quotation from Psalm 112:9, which cites the righteous deeds of the godly. These deeds will be published in eternity, where they will remain forever. When you give time, effort and unsung actions, these things may not currently be recognized or appreciated, but will be for all of eternity. When it comes to Christian giving, you can take it with you.
Another advantage of giving is taken from verse 10: Your returns will happen according to the natural law of multiplication. This law of multiplication extends beyond the notion that you reap what you sow. God has planned nature's laws so that you reap even more than you sow. This is a boon for Christians who only have limited resources to give.
However, the law of multiplication says that one drop can be multiplied into bucketfuls. If you only give a drop of your ability to your church, an entire community of people can be blessed. Give a drop of your time to share the gospel with a neighbor, and an entire life can be revamped for God. Like a small pebble dropped into a large body of water, our miniscule giving can proceed to ripple out in continuously growing circles. Even with our few tiny seeds, the Lord of multiplication can create numerous giant oaks.
A sixth bonus for giving can be extracted from verses 11:13, in which you are credited for playing a part in glorifying God. In these verses, the outcome of the Corinthians' giving to the church at Jerusalem surpassed merely fulfilling the needs of the Christians there. Thanksgiving rose to God in heaven, and these thanksgivings brought glory to Him.
Giving in the name of Christ meets needs, as well as encompassing the reward of contributing to God's glory. As thanksgivings arise to God from the people who receive our giving, we receive recognition for contributing to the glory of God.
For giving, the seventh and final reward is revealed in verse 14: That others will pray for you. There are some people who only receive our prayers when they're sick. As we begin to give more of ourselves, a strong element of prayer begins to develop within us. Even the smallest bit of giving meets the needs of others, and in return, builds prayer protection and support for the giver.
Verse 15 aptly wraps up the portion of Scripture related to giving. The many rewards for giving are made possible because God gave Himself for us. And that's the ultimate form of giving.
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