The AMI QT Devotionals for September 10-12 are provided by Pastor Doug Tritton of Symphony Church in Boston.
Devotional Thought for Today
Cultivating Generosity – Part 1
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” 10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
When we think of Paul, we probably think of him as an apostle, a writer, an evangelist, a preacher, a church planter, etc., and indeed he was all those things. But what about this one: fundraiser? That might not be near the top of our list of who Paul was. In fact, it may make us uncomfortable to think of him as such. We tend to get suspicious when people ask us for money. However, when you read his letters, it’s hard to miss how often he mentions the need for Christians to give. He was not blindly fundraising, he had a cause – namely, raising funds for poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem – and he boldly asked the Gentile churches to contribute to this cause. That is the context for the passage above – here, Paul was exhorting the Corinthians to contribute to this collection he was intending to bring to poor Jewish Christians in Jerusalem.
In Paul’s other letters, he does not always explain in much detail why he is asking for the churches to give, but here in 2 Corinthians, especially chapters 8 and 9, Paul covers in length how important it is for Christians to be generous. And Paul uses a key word to describe generosity: righteousness. Righteousness is an important word for Paul because it describes the relationship between the Christian and God. Those who believe in Jesus are considered righteous. This is a righteousness that is given to us by God because of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Yet, here Paul seems to connect generosity with righteousness. This means that in Paul’s mind, those who believe in Jesus, who have been counted as righteous in God’s eyes, demonstrate their righteousness through generosity.
In fact, Paul quotes Psalm 112 to show that generosity is a sign of a person who fears the Lord (see Psalm 112). “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” Righteousness is shown through generosity.
Today, let’s reflect on this idea of generosity. As Christians, we are called to strive for righteousness and often we think of that in terms of the avoidance of certain activities, which is certainly a good start. But as we see in our passage, generosity is a key part of righteousness. So, if we desire righteousness, we must strive to live generously. Perhaps today can be a day you start to cultivate a generous way of life.
Prayer: God, thank you that you are the source of righteousness and the example of true generosity. May we strive to be generous in all we do. Let generosity be a regular part of how we live our ways, such that we reflect your character with our generosity.
Bible Reading for Today: Matthew 6
Lunch Break Study
Read Psalm 112:5-9: It is well with the man who deals generously and lends; who conducts his affairs with justice. 6 For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. 7 He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. 8 His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries. 9 He has distributed freely; he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn is exalted in honor.
Questions to Consider
- What does the Psalm say about the outlook of the person who is generous?
- According to this passage, what are some of the effects of being generous?
- What is stopping you from cultivating a generous heart?
- Verse 5 says that “It is well with the man who deals generously and lends.” However, this does not mean that being generous is a guarantee of good circumstances. Rather, the person who is generous and lends “is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” (v.7) A person who is generous has cultivated a deep trust that keeps things “well” even if circumstances are not good.
- They will never be moved and will be remembered (v.6). They are not bothered when things go badly (v.7). There is less fear and more consistency of emotions (v.8). They are exalted for giving freely to those in need. (v.9) There really is so much blessing to be received when you freely give!
- Invite God to speak to you regarding this!
Tonight, reflect on the ways you have been on the receiving end of generosity. Think of how you felt. Now, invite God to help you to be a source of blessing to others through your own generosity.