Gratitude Leads to Generosity

October 10-14


The Evidence

Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints,  for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. – 2 Corinthians 9:1-2 (ESV)

A few years ago Dr. Nick Stinnett of the University of Nebraska conducted a group of studies called the “Family Strengths Research Project.” Stinnett and his researchers identified six qualities that make for strong families. The first quality and one of the most important to be found in strong families was the quality of appreciation. Families that are strong are strong in part, Dr. Stinnett concludes because family members express to each other their appreciation for what the other members DO and for who they ARE.


In a similar study, another researcher looked into the effect of praise in the workplace. His study showed that the ratio of praise to criticism in the workplace needs to be four to one before employees feel that there is a balance – that there must be four times as much praise as there is criticism before they feel good about their work and about the environment they work in. (Richard J. Fairchild, “Gratitude – A Necessary Attitude”)

In 2 Corinthians 9, the Apostle Paul applauds the church for the evident generosity they have shown. Paul speaks of some of the principles of giving, the first being practicing what you said you would do. Notice that he is not questioning their original intentions or implying they did not mean what they had said earlier in the last year. He acknowledges that they were ready and willing. The Corinthians’ actions in the past were evidence that they were generous people.


“I know your readiness and eagerness to help.” Could this be said about our church? Could this be said about you? Are you ready to help those in need? Do others know this is true about you? Do others even boast about your eagerness to help?


Thank God for the people in the past who have given to our Second Church family in order for us to do so much of the ministry God has called us to do. Ask God to give you a heart that’s ready to give and put your words into action.


The Excitement

for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. – 2 Corinthians 9:2 (ESV)

Here’s an illustration of a man with too much enthusiasm: The storekeeper had only one fish left in his icy barrel. A lady asked for a big fish, and he reached in and showed it to her. She wanted a bigger one, so he reached in and grabbed it again, and said with enthusiasm, “How about this one?!” She wanted something bigger, so he grabbed it again and jumped up and down with his find. She said, “They’re all a little small…I guess I’ll take all three!” (The Ideal Church)

Paul described the Corinthians as having great zeal in their giving. The word zeal means to show great enthusiasm. It was initially used in a good sense which described fervor in advancing a cause or in rendering service. God used their genuine excitement about giving to bless the Macedonian church. Giving was not something they resented or did out of obligation. Giving was something they saw as an exciting privilege.


What things come to mind when you think about great “zeal” in our society? What do people get really excited about? What things get you really excited? Is being generous one of the things that excites you?


Praise God for the resources He has blessed you with and the capacity you have to give. Ask God to provide you with a zealous attitude about giving.


The Encouragement

for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. – 2 Corinthians 9:2 (ESV)

Former CBS News anchor, Dan Rather, who boxed in high school, says his coach’s greatest goal was to teach his boxers that they absolutely, positively, without question, had to be “get up” fighters. “If you’re in a ring just once in your life—completely on your own—and you get knocked down but get back up again, it’s a never-to-be-forgotten experience. Your sense of achievement is distinct and unique. And sometimes the only thing making you get up is someone in your corner yelling.” (Reader’s Digest)

In 2 Corinthians chapter 8, Paul used the Macedonian believers as examples to encourage the Corinthians. Now he uses the Corinthians to encourage the Macedonians. When the Macedonians heard that the Christians in Corinth had been ready for a year, many of them (the Macedonians) was stirred up; they caught the contagion of Christian giving and decided to give themselves to it wholeheartedly. Paul recognizes the spiritual truth that generosity is contagious. When you’re around generous people, you tend to be more generous yourself, just as when you’re around stingy, materialistic people, you tend to become stingy and materialistic. The lesson is obvious: we should realize that we can impact others with our lifestyle.


Hebrews 10:24 says, “let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works.” Who has “stirred” you up to good works and to be generous? Who do you think you have encouraged through your giving?


Thank God for some of the people who have encouraged you to follow Jesus and who have modeled biblical generosity. Ask God to show you ways He wants to use you to encourage someone else in their Christian walk.


The Exchange

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. – 2 Corinthians 9:6 (ESV)

The unusual thing about dominoes is that you win by losing. To win, you must lose your blocks. Whoever gets rid of all his dominoes first wins the game. You must give to get—lose to gain—be reduced to nothing to get to the top. It is not like baseball or tennis or other games where the highest number of runs, points, or scores determines the winner. No! With dominoes, it is the one who can reach nothing first who succeeds.

The rule of the natural man is: “Get all you can.” The rule of the spiritual man should be: “Give all you can.” In the spiritual realm, only that which we give away will we keep forever. In the Christian life, we must be reduced to nothing before we become something. Seed kept in the granary will mold and decay, but “thrown away” into the ground it increases 30-, 60-, and 100-fold. “Unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone” (John 12:24). Remember, Jesus gave His all. He is our example.  (M.R. DeHaan)

A farmer once said, “If you’re ever going to be cheap, don’t be cheap with the seed.” One bushel of seed invested yields thirty bushels of grain harvested in a good year. Thirty to one–not a bad return, if you are ready to believe and willing to invest. Giving is an investment in our eternal future. – The bigger the investment the greater the return! (Grace Giving to the Glory of God!)


The point of 2 Corinthians 9:6 seems to be this: the more you give, the more God gives back so that you can continue to give. But if is it true that God will make us rich in every way so that we can be generous on every occasion, why don’t we see more of this? How many of us have really tried it? How has our church experienced the principle of sowing and reaping?


Praise God for the ways He has multiplied your giving. Thank God for the privilege you have in investing in the “Greater Things” He has in store for our Second family.


The Emotion 

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion,  for God loves a cheerful giver. – 2 Corinthians 9:7 (ESV)

In the city of Colorado Springs, people called Nick Venetucci “The Pumpkin Man.” Every autumn for 50 years, he invited thousands of schoolchildren to visit his farm along the banks of Monument Creek, pick a free pumpkin, and take it home. Nick loved walking through his fields with the kids, helping them find “just the right one.”

The principal of the local elementary school, which was named in Venetucci’s honor, said, “He taught our kids the definition of generosity. He gave, gave, gave, and never expected anything in return.” When Nick died at the age of 93, the community saluted him as a hero because of his kind and generous spirit.

Nick Venetucci shared the fruit of his labor because he wanted to. The Bible encourages us all to give in this way: “Let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:7-8). The grace comes from God; the giving comes from our hearts. The benefit extends to more people than we can imagine. The Pumpkin Man showed us how. (David C. McCasland)

Paul is not talking here about how much we give so much as how we give. God looks not at the quantity given, but at the quality of the giver! The emotion when we give should be a heart that’s cheerful. Why does God love when we give? Because we are saying to Him, “I believe in You and I trust You!”


What emotion best describes the way that you give? How do you think our church has done at celebrating the privilege to give?


Thank God for the ways He has shown you His love this week. Ask God to help you better experience the joy of giving.