“Not A Grudging Obligation” (2 Corinthians 9:1-5)

Not everybody likes to give or even likes to be asked to give. Some houses put up “NO SOLICITING” signs by their door because they do not want bothered with salesmen or children’s fundraisers. Some people groan at the beggar on a street corner. They refuse to give and, if they do, they mutter, “he’s probably just going to waste it on drugs or alcohol.” Some refuse to go to churches because of giving too. They don’t like being “hit up for money” every time they attend (and they shouldn’t be). Yet, for churches to do the work God calls them to do it takes funding. For churches to help others in times of emergency, it requires generosity. So, Paul writes this encouragement to Corinth:

“Now concerning the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you; 2 for I know your willingness, about which I boast of you to the Macedonians, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal has stirred up the majority. 3 Yet I have sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this respect, that, as I said, you may be ready; 4 lest if some Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we (not to mention you!) should be ashamed of this confident boasting. 5 Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation” (2 Corinthians 9:1-5, NKJV).

There are great lessons in this short text. First of all, notice Paul’s optimism in the churches. Earlier, he had written positively about the “liberality” of the Macedonians to (8:1-4). Meanwhile, he was also quick to “boast” about the generosity of the Corinthians to the Macedonians (9:2). However, he is afraid Corinth may let him down and he would have to eat his words (9:3-4). Even so, there is loveliness in this optimistic mindset Paul had toward the churches. Positive expectations in one another lead to positive results.

Yet, the second great lesson is about the attitude Paul expected from the Corinthians as they gave their “generous gift beforehand” (9:5). He did not want them to give as a “grudging obligation” but “as a matter of generosity.” It is a temptation in giving to give out of duty. While it is a duty, Paul wanted Corinth to view it more as a beautiful opportunity. He wanted them to give with a proper frame of mind.

Consider a few examples. One serves his country out of duty because he is drafted, but another serves out of love to protect his country’s freedoms. One father pays child support out of government force, but another spends freely on his children because he loves them and wants to care for their needs. One reluctantly gives to the church because it is commanded, but the one who loves seeing lost souls won to Christ gives from the heart because of the good it does. Search your heart and ask, “what is my attitude as I give?” May we give cheerfully and lovingly, and not out of “grudging obligation.”