I’ve been reading II Corinthians each morning this summer. Recently, I was studying chapters 8 and 9, where Paul gives instruction on giving and receiving. He has several meaningful things to say to both the giver and the receiver. Since I have been writing the last few weeks on partnership development, I thought I would end this series with two posts on giving and receiving as described in these chapters.
Last week I focused on the giver. This week I will focus on the receiver. I will be brief, hoping the scriptures speak for themselves. I will leave the exact references out, in hopes that you may wish to read the two chapters for yourself (hint, hint).
It’s Okay To Ask
Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised.
There is no getting around it. The letter we call II Corinthians was, in part, a fundraising letter. Paul is boldly asking them to give, even reminding them of their previous commitment and asking them to fulfill their pledge.
Paul sometimes worked as a tent maker (Acts 18), but more often he replied on support from other churches when he was ministering in another town. Paul’s missionary journey to the Corinthians, for instance, was funded by the Macedonians (II Corinthians 11:8-9).
This fundraising letter was not for Paul’s ministry, but for the church in Jerusalem. Paul was traveling back to Jerusalem and collecting money from each church/city along the way. He wrote the Corinthians to ask them to have their gift ready when his delegation arrived.
So write fundraising letters and make fundraising presentations. Ask for pledges, and even ask people to fulfill their pledges when they are unfaithful to do so.
We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.
Paul goes out of his way to explain how the gift would be “administered.” He has integrity and wants to be sure the team of people delivering the funds are also above reproach. To be sure there was no room to question how the gift was being used, Paul invited leaders from several different churches to be a part of the delegation that collected and delivered the funds.
So have integrity in how funds are raised. Have systems in place so there is no question about how the funds are being used. Have financial oversight, hire accountants, create a board, and keep the books open for partners to see.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
It’s all about God. Paul is emphatic with this point. Last week I said the giver is giving to God, not man. Well the same is true for the receiver. They should receive the gift as a gift from God, not from man. Thus, receiving gifts results in “many expressions of thanks to God.”
It’s fun to receive! It’s fun to see God provide! Let God’s provision be cause for thanks and praise. First express thanks to God, and then express thanks to your partners.
Pray For Your Partners
And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.
Paul believes the matter of giving and receiving is all about relationships. Giving and receiving is about the heart. There is love expressed through giving and receiving and thanks and prayer. Paul assumes that those who receive will earnestly love those that give and be faithful to pray for them.
So communicate with donors. Express thanks. Share prayer requests. Ask for prayer requests. Stay connected with one another and invite them into a real relationship.
Justin Christopher is the National Campus Director for Campus Renewal Ministries and the author of Campus Renewal: A Practical Plan for Uniting Campus Ministries in Prayer and Mission. He facilitates CRM’s Partnering Campus Network and also gives leadership to the Campus House of Prayer and the missional community movement at the University of Texas.