If I asked you to name off a few Biblical practices that a believer should focus on, what would be on your list? I tend to think that our lists would be very similar. I would include Bible intake at the top. This could include Bible reading and Bible study. My list would also have prayer in it. I would also include church attendance, getting involved in ministry and some others. This past week in my studies I came across of passage that reminded me of one “spiritual discipline” that is as important as the others.
If you haven’t figured it out yet, the discipline is giving. It is one of the “elephant in the room” disciplines that everyone would like to ignore. Yet the Scriptures reminds us that to neglect this areas of our relationship with God is the same as neglecting the Word, prayer or any other key discipline. The message this past week was “God’s Got My Back – Finances” and can be listened to by clicking the link.
The verse that stood out to me says, “But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.” (2 Corinthians 8:7) The challenge of the verse for the follower of Jesus is to give their best in pursing the disciplines of the Christian faith. It is a reminder not to sloppy or lazy. The result is we invest our effort and energy because these “habits of the faith” change us. I think most of us can grasp the importance of faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness and love. It was the last phrase that screamed for my attention, “see that you also excel in this act of grace also.” The Bible speaks of many different demonstrations of God’s grace. Paul uses this phrase in Romans 12:6 to speak using our spiritual gift(s). Here in 2 Corinthians we have to look back in the context to learn that here the “act of grace” is giving. And here the believers in Corinth are encouraged to not only excel in the other disciplines of the Christian life but also in the area of giving!
When we study the Scriptures, especially 2 Corinthians 8-9 we are reminded that my giving influences God’s blessing in my life. We also learn that God is pleased when we are generous. It, like others disciplines, releases God’s power in my life. The resources that God entrusts to us is seed money that when given results in physical and spiritual blessings (God promises a harvest of righteousness!). And maybe the most significant blessing of these listed, our generosity impacts others that in turn join us in praising God! Wow!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson