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What is Material Giving?

The believers’ giving of material offerings is a crucial factor in the life and walk of a Christian and is affirmed by the apostle Paul in chapters eight and nine of 2 Corinthians. There, he thoroughly addresses the principles involved in ministering to the needy saints. To introduce this subject, Paul focuses on the believers’ experience of the grace of God: “Furthermore we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in much proving of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Cor. 8:1-2).

Money is very much used by Satan to corrupt us. Every fallen human being is under the deceiving dominion of mammon and material possessions (Matt. 6:19-21, 24-25, 30; 19:21-22; Luke 12:13-19). How was it possible, then, for those believers in Macedonia even in their affliction and poverty to have the abundance of joy abound unto the riches of their liberality? They overcame the dominion of mammon and were freed from greed by receiving the superabounding grace of God. Thus they gave, even in their poverty, of their own material possessions to the needy believers.

They overcame the dominion of mammon and were freed from greed by receiving the superabounding grace of God.

By this we can realize that the grace of God in 2 Corinthians 8 is much more than the unmerited favor we receive from God. The grace of God is Christ Himself in His resurrection coming into us as the life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45) to provide us with God Himself as our life and our full supply. Under the motivating source and liberating operation of His abundant grace in us, our hearts are opened to seek opportunity to distribute to the needs of others. Our material giving then becomes a spiritual matter full of divine life for the building up of the Body of Christ.

Our experience of the abundance of grace causes us first to give ourselves to the Lord Himself and then to give of our material resources (2 Cor. 8:5). The Lord wants us the believers much more than what we have. Hence, the basic and central principle motivating and governing our giving must be the grace of God.

Furthermore, Paul says in 2 Corinthians 9:6 that he who sows sparingly shall also sparingly reap, and he who sows with blessings shall also with blessings reap. This word, like that given by the Lord Jesus when He said, “Give, and it will be given to you” (Luke 6:38), implies that our gathering depends upon our sowing. Through our receiving and enjoying the grace of God, our material giving becomes a sowing of seed for our further supply (9:6). If we sow much, we will gather much. Let us each receive the grace of God to be a cheerful giver, not giving out of sorrow or necessity (v. 7). The apostle Paul encourages us with these words: “God is able to make all grace abound unto you, that, in everything always having all sufficiency, you may abound unto every good work” (v. 8).

For further reading on this subject, please see the footnotes for the above referenced verses in the New Testament Recovery Version; and Life-study of Second Corinthians; Life-study of Philippians, messages 29 and 30, by Witness Lee, published by Living Stream Ministry.

From Issue No. 53, September 2002

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