2 Corinthians 9 “And your zeal has stirred up most of them. But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter so that you may be ready (as I said you would be). Otherwise if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready we would be humiliated-to say nothing of you (your humiliation)-for being so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised so that it may be ready as a willing gift-not as an exaction.
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. (And) God is able to make all Grace abound to you so that having all sufficiency in all things at all time you may abound in every good work.” 2 Cor 9:2b-8
Giving. Management of money and goods leading up to giving. Giving cheerfully, not with a grudge or complaint. Planning giving. Being ready to give. Digging in the old money pouch is a touchy subject sometimes.
Did I ever start off with being a cheerful advocate of giving? Naw-it is a constant issue with me (just ask my wife who sees me and my sinful tendencies all the time). I have to prepare my heart and command/program my actions to prepare to give-and once presented with the situation I have planned for don’t shrink from execution.
I think that is what Paul is saying to the folks at Corinth: “As you have planned and/or committed to give execute the plan. As you execute without grudge or complaint, hopefully you have prepared to give with joy and cheerfulness. As you review what you did and that you did as planned before God you can sense the Pleasure of God that you overcame your sinful reluctance to give. God loves it!!
So perhaps this is not so much about giving but about overcoming sin.
Acknowledging I have issues with giving, I set out a plan. The plan I set out was to make sure I had $20 in fives in my pocket every pay day so that I would be prepared to give to the poor standing on the corners. Can I be fooled by con artists? Yes-but I have to trust God as the Holy Spirit prods me in the heart. I also (as preparation) must pray for discernment. But-truth be known-I am training myself to trust giving cheerfully to God for the poor. The training isn’t to just shove a bill into a greedy hand and forget about it but to glorify God in my giving. Oh yeah: I can’t forget doing giving in secret. Guess I just blew it here, huh.
Being a disciple isn’t about good intentions. It isn’t even about being accountable. It is about learning how to follow Christ. How do we do that? The Bible is clear: Line upon line; Precept upon precept. Learn from another on how to walk worthy of the Gospel
Make a plan.
Father, planning to be a disciple is different from just wanting to be a disciple-although wanting is seriously the first step. I am convicted to be a disciple: Step by step, methodical, intentional, with purpose and guidance. This is hard because I think that the process is lacking in American Christianity. The best model is perhaps the Guild model (apprentice, journeyman, master). I am so far from that. Oh, well: help me Holy Spirit to get after it-to pursue and like Timothy was advised-to assure my progress is seen and measured. Not in sinful pride, but in complete and humble surrender to Your Majesty. AMEN