Last week we began to dive into how Paul shows us in 2 Corinthians 5:13-21 how the gospel fuels our motivation, the measure and the mission of living sacrificially. We saw how the gospel fuel our MOTIVATION for sacrificial living. The gospel gives us a MEASURE for our sacrifice, Christ’s sacrifice for us.
A BIBLICAL VISION FOR GENEROSITY
Two words characterize Paul’s description of Christ’s sacrifice for us—total and substitutionary. Christ’s sacrifice was total in that he died for us (v. 15); you can’t give any more than that. And it was substitutionary, as he points out in verse 21: Jesus became our sin so that we might become his righteousness. He took our place of condemnation and gave us his position of privilege.
Our generosity toward God should reflect the same measure of his sacrifice toward us. Jesus didn’t tithe his blood for us; he gave it all. Shouldn’t we respond by offering our all for him? Verse 15 states the MEASURE for generosity so powerfully, “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
Too often we implicitly tell God, “I’m willing to give you this much.” And maybe “this much” is generous, but there’s a limit. When we should be offering God a blank check with our lives, instead we simply give him the equivalent of a gift card.
Do you see your resources as yours to benefit from, or as opportunities to be generous to others? The world, of course, finds it absurd to be this open-handed with our resources (I earned it, I deserve to benefit from it!).
And, in fact, that is precisely the context of 2 Corinthians 5: Paul has to defend himself against the charge that he’s out of his mind (read v. 13). For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. When was the last time your generosity made someone question your sanity?
A GOSPEL RESPONSE TO GENEROSITY
C.S. Lewis wrote, “I do not believe one can settle how much we ought to give. I am afraid the only safe rule is to give more than we can spare. In other words, if our expenditure on comforts, luxuries, amusements, etc., is up to the standard common among those with the same income as our own, we are probably giving away too little. If our charities (or good works) do not all pinch or hamper us, I should say they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charities expenditures excludes them.”
The cross is the measure of our sacrifice. In determining how much you ought to give don’t just pull out a calculator, stand at the foot of the cross and give in response to the cross.
Consider something you can give up in order for you to give sacrificially this month. Perhaps it’s a beverage you think you can’t live without. Perhaps it’s an online subscription or an annual pass to your favorite theme park.
A GOSPEL PRAYER FOR GENEROSITY
Heavenly Father, you are my live and my everything. Forgive me when I fail to see the resources (time, talents and treasure) that you have blessed me with as a means to be generous to others. May the measure of your sacrifice for me be reflected in practical ways in the way I sacrificially give to others.