“But as you abound in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us – see that you abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others.”
2 Corinthians 8:7-9, NIV
I once counseled a man who had lost both legs in a boating accident. As we discussed spiritual growth and spiritual health, he began to counsel me about my physical condition and my need to “get in shape.” He suggested I start jogging. Without thinking, I told him I wanted to jog but I could not jog because it hurt my knees to run. He smiled and reminded me that he ran marathons on artificial legs! I bought running shoes that night. His example motivated me, not his commandment.
Paul counsels a local congregation of believers to “abound” in the “grace” of giving. His approach to motivate them is not to give them a “commandment” to give. His approach is to show them the “diligence of others” in the grace of giving. Examples are powerful. When we say we cannot do something because it is hard to do, a commandment does not empower us to do it. What empowers us to do hard things is an example of someone doing it who is in a more difficult situation than our situation.
Most people who give generously cannot really explain by the numbers how they give what they give. They are often shocked at what their giving totals each year. What they can explain is their motivation for giving. They have seen giving and they like what they see.
Becoming a biblically generous giver is not a question of commandments to those who really give sacrificially. It is a question of imitation and motivation. It is seeing real givers give and seeing the impact and joy of their giving. We are on our way to giving when we can say “I want to be like them!”
QUESTION: Do you know a great giver? Would you like to be like him? Are you willing to ask God to make you a great giver?