“I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.” (2 Corinthians 8:8, KJV)
What drives a person? I remember my first car. My dad told me that I could have a car when I could afford one. By this he meant that I needed to purchase and maintain it. One day my dad said that he found a car for me. It was a 1961 Chevy Impala. The cost was $75, well within my budget. I went to pick it up. My brother drove me over there in mom and dad’s car. Unfortunately, on the way home it broke down. My brother and I fooled around with it for a half hour and finally got it going again by swapping out the batteries between the two cars.
When I got the car home, I went to town fixing all the things that were wrong. They were mainly engine problems. The lifters were sticking due to sludge in the oil. The points and plugs needed to be changed. And the oil had not been changed in years. I learned a lot about what made a car run in those days because I did all the repairs myself. You see, the car looked nice on the outside. Yet it was the engine inside that made it go.
In the same way, people can look good on the outside but it is what is on inside that counts. Paul wrote to the Corinthians encouraging them to give. He wrote of the example of the impoverished believers in Macedonia who gave out of their poverty. Yet Paul did not want them to give out of legalistic obedience. To do so would undermine the grace of God working in them. He wanted them to give for the right reason. He wanted them to excel in giving because of the love of Christ born of the Spirit in their hearts. Legalistic giving based upon external pressure would not bring them the blessing of giving. Paul wanted them to give generously as purposed in their hearts.
I have been in churches where you were brow beaten into doing things. It was not a joyful experience. I have also been in those where giving was an expected chore. Yes, the Scriptures do tell us to be generous givers. Paul gave the supreme example of Christ in the following verse. “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9, KJV).
The Christian life is to be one of a joyful relationship. It is not to be a burden. Christ’s yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matt 11:30). Christ went to the cross for the “joy set before him” (Heb 12:2) voluntarily because of His love for His people. We must have the same joyful attitude in our giving. Paul spoke of it as a work of grace for a reason.