Category Archives: giving

More Than One Grace Macedonians Money Angels Incarnation How Do They Go Together

The traditional teaching of 2Corinthians chapters eight and nine is used to get believers to give money to religious institutions’ needy causes. The  Macedonians, who gave in the midst of affliction and poverty, is the standard to duplicate.

But searching through the verses of this passage in light of Greek meanings reveal a different point.

Here are a couple of key words from previous posts about this passage that help reveal the fullness of what Paul was saying.

(2Cor 8:2 2Cor 9:11,13 – BTW liberality is not about giving money)

liberal/liberality in the Greek means

  • simplicity
  • singleness
  • sincerity
  • purity
  • graciousness
  • not compounded or over complicated
  • single-threaded

(Liberality is not about giving money.)

(2Cor 9:7 BTW –  a cheerful giver loves God, not God loves a cheerful giver)

cheerful in the Greek means

  • propitious (favorably disposed toward someone)
  • disposed because satisfied – describing someone who is cheerfully ready to act because already approving (“already persuaded”)
  • won over
  • already inclined

(Cheerful in this context is not about smiling or laughing when giving.)

We will see that grace is the source of of the Macedonians’ liberality and cheerful giving.

More Than One Grace

In the Greek there is more than just one word for grace. They are cognates of the same root word, but their individual meanings are important to apply.

In this passage (2Cor chapters 8 and 9) several cognates of ‘grace’ are used NINE times.

Now this is curious. Any Greek words for money or offering are NOT used in these two chapters!

Grace is such a big deal that Macedonian story (chapters 8-9) is book-ended with grace.

Grace Bookends

Beginning of story –

“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God given to the churches in Macedonia.” (2Cor 8:1)

End of story –

“… who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor 9:14,15)

The Graces_GrowingInFullness_Nancy Teague


It is grace, grace, grace! It is not about money, money, money. In fact, there are no Greek words that mean ‘money’ or even ‘offering’ in this story.

Exposing Mistranslations

In fact let me back the grace focus with a few examples.

“…to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of God” (2Cor 8:19)

Now, we would automatically think this gift is money. Some translations even say ‘offering’. So it must be money, right? Nope.

The Greek word for gift in this verse is

  • xáris (charis)- favor, disposed to, inclined, favorable towards, leaning towards to share benefit”) – properly, grace. xáris preeminently used of the Lord’s favor – freely extended to give Himself away to people (because He is “always leaning toward them”)

“…prepare your generous gift beforehand…” (2Cor 9:5)

Looks like a big offering of money! Ah but, ‘generous’ is not even in the Greek, and ‘gift’ is eulogia – adulation, praise, blessing. Of course ‘blessing’ can be money, but I am deconstructing the religious mindset that this passage is all about giving money.

More mistranslations:

  • In verse 20 Paul continues – “avoiding that anyone blame us in the lavish gift…” Sounds like a lot of money. But, ‘gift’ is NOT in the Greek. “Lavish’ means thickness, abundance, lavish generosity. It seems there could be an abundance of something else going on.
  • Verse 21 – “providing honorable things…”. The translation ‘honorable things’ in the Greek means beautiful, good, worthy; beautiful, as an outward sign of the inward good, noble, honorable character. ‘Providing’ means – I take thought for beforehand, provide for, practice; to think, plan before. There is thought and practice of things beautiful, worthy, and of honorable character. Again, more than about the wallet.

Looking up some of these words in the Greek can certainly get one to reconsider what is really being said!

What Is Thanks

It is the GRACES theme that overwhelms Paul at the end.

“Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2Cor 9:15)

Now, Is this a usual “thanks”?

When we say thanks, it generally means we are expressing gratitude for a pleasant experience, kindness, or help.

Is this what Paul was doing, but was just super thankful to God? No.

Paul is not thanking God. Say what?!

Check out the actual Greek meanings in this verse:

Thanks  

xáris ‘charis’ (khar’-ece) – grace, favor, kindness, disposed to, inclined, favorable towards, leaning towards to share benefit; sometimes rendered ‘thanks’, but the core-idea is “favor, grace“, “extension towards“.
[Please note it is NOT the cognate euxáristos – prop. thankfulness (thanksgiving) – literally, “the giving of thanks for God’s grace – e.g. 2Cor 9:11,12.]

to God

for

epí (a preposition) – upon – naturally looks to the response (effect) that goes with the envisioned contact, i.e. its apt result (“spin-offs,” effects).

the

indescribable

anekdiḗgētos – indescribable, that cannot be thoroughly related, inexpressible, impossible to estimate

of him

autos – an intensive pronoun (1) self (emphatic) (2) he, she, it (used for the third pers. pron.)

gift!

dōreá – a gift, freely given and hence not acquired by merit or entitlement. It expresses a brand of giving that highlights the beneficent desire of the giver. (Note: this word comes from dídōmi – to put, place. It is used in 2Cor 8:1 – “…the grace of God put/placed on the churches. So when God ‘puts/places’ something or Someone on or in someone it is actually connected with being a free gift!).

Paul, in other words, is ecstatically shouting – “Grace to God upon the indescribable of him, Jesus, His free gift to all of us. ”


Angel Announcement Precursor to the Macedonians

Speaking of Paul’s loud pronouncement, how about –

The angel shocked the shepherds and said, “I bring you good tidings of great joy to all the people…” and then suddenly a multitude of heavenly host filled the skies with praise to God in response to Grace becoming flesh and the goodwill it meant toward men! (Lk 2:10-14)

Paul, in a way, was joyfully echoing this angelic raving, besides boasting how the Macedonians couldn’t help but display the fruit of  true grace!

It is not about money. It is about GRACE GRACE GRACE.  And the essence of grace is about joy!  The Macedonians got that. Talk about fullness!

Dig In

  • “I bring you tidings of great joy.” ‘Joy’ (xará) comes from the root word for grace (xar). Xará means – grace recognized, joy because of grace. Now this angel is talkin’ GREAT joy. Greek ‘great’ means – large, great, in the widest sense. To parallel that, the Macedonians had an “abundance of joy (xará)”! (2Cor 8:2) Their “abundance” (GR superfluity, excessively large amount, an abundance that exceeds normal expectations) was noticeable too. Hmm, is the grace you experience noticeable?
  • The heavenly host were actually saying (in the Greek meanings) – “Glory to God, namely upon (upon – that causes an effect) the physical earth peace (peace – from a word that means to join, tie together into a whole; properly, wholeness) in (in – inside, within – as in the condition (state) in which something operates from the inside) the human race, with whom He is pleased (pleased – good-will, good-pleasure, satisfaction, happiness, delight of men). Hey, is something wonderful going on IN each human, but we can’t see it because we really do not understand grace nor what Grace completed?
  • The story of the Macedonians is truly about being enriched in all ‘liberality’ – simplicity, purity, sincerity, singleness. This caused euxáristos (giving thanks for God’s grace). (2Cor 9:11) Gosh, to grasp that the coming of Jesus – His glory, full of grace and truth, revealed in flesh (because He really does enjoy our likeness of Him) – brought excessive enrichment to all mankind.

Oh, the exceeding grace of God in you!!!

 

What Are The Macedonians Riches of Liberality? Are You Rich In Liberality?

Religious institutional Christianity often uses the story of the Macedonians to inspire us or guilt us into being liberal givers like the Macedonians. (2Corinthians chapters 8,9)

However, maybe it is more accurate to call it ‘guilty inspiration’?

Religious preaching makes us note that the Macedonians gave liberally even though they had no money!

God-giving

The Macedonians were God-giving. Their giving came with an abundance of joy in spite of being under great persecution and extreme poverty. (2Cor 8:2) Amazing!

Paul explained that this strange mix of persecution, great joy, and deep poverty caused the Macedonians to abound in the riches of their liberality. (2Cor 8:2 NKJ) What does that mean?

Meaning of liberality

Many might think being very liberal in this context means being generous with your pocketbook.

After all, the dictionary defines liberality as the quality of being generous.

But the Biblical meaning is much different!

New Testament definition of liberality

liberality Greek: haplotés

  • simplicity, singleness, sincerity, purity, graciousness
  • not compounded or over complicated
  • single-threaded

By the way, do you know haplotés is also used about Jesus?

“..the simplicity (haplotés) that is in Christ.” (2Cor 11:3)

Hmm, pause and think about that. Macedonians and Jesus = haplotés.

Importance of the word “in”

Sometimes more understanding comes when we consider little bitty words in scripture verses.  e.g. the word “in”

  • abounded in the riches of liberality
  • the simplicity in Christ

This particular “in” in scripture is

eis – prop. into, unto; lit. “motion into which”, implying penetration and union to a particular purpose or result.

So the Macedonians had experienced a union, a penetration into Jesus’ purity, simplicity, sincerity, graciousness. And it was for a particular purpose or result.

The Macedonians were ‘one’ with Jesus. They were a true reflection of God’s liberality. They reflected Jesus’ purity, sincerity, graciousness. There was no duplicity in their giving, no hidden agenda, no ulterior motive. No ‘notice what I did’ or even a ‘pat on the back’.

Give according to ability

What caused these Macedonians to be effusive in the riches of liberality, i.e. of simplicity?

Paul explained – “…that according to their ability…” (2Cor 8:3)

Doesn’t this sound like self-effort?

It’s up to you. So muster up that ability with positive thinking, positive confession, talk yourself or guilt yourself into it. Be inspired by the preacher’s persuasive words declaring a great need and we need your ability to give.

Right? No way!

Quite the contrary, supernatural stuff was going on here.

  • according tokatá – properly, “down from, e. from a higher to a lower plane, with special reference to the end-point
  • ability dunamis power, might, force (dunamis is where we get our word ‘dynamite’)

Down from a higher plane (Jesus) to a lower plane (the Macedonian’s hearts – it’s intended end point) – God’s power came and wonderful fruit resulted. Now mind you, Jesus is in them/in us – so this ‘higher plane’ is not heaven or somewhere up there that power comes down. It is an internal dynamic.

Oh to give like true Macedonians! Oh the rush of joy!

True Liberality Flows Simply GrowingInFullness Nancy Teague


Dig In

  • Biblical ‘liberality’ flows simply and freely. It abounds in simplicity, purity, sincerity and singleness. It is not complicated! This kind of liberality has nothing to do with religious Christianity and all to do with Jesus.
  • You were made to naturally and easily reflect this beautiful liberality. It’s a God empowerment. He loves seeing you ‘be Him’ in your own unique way.
  • Get free from religion’s persuasive kind of guilt giving. There is no ‘have to’ with God. Let Him empower you with His kind of liberality. It is part of fullness. Enjoy the powerful flow!

P.S. Next post – what is the real source of the Macedonians’ liberality and cheerful giving?

What Is Agape Love What Does Agape Love Have To Do With A Cheerful Giver

In the previous post I exposed the misunderstanding of what ‘cheerful’ giver means. It has nothing to do with being happy! ‘Cheerful’ in the Biblical Greek is about being persuaded, disposed toward someone for their benefit…..

This post will explore who loves who and why in the context of giving.

Who loves who?

Bible translations for 2Cor 9:7 say – “…God loves a cheerful giver.”

Many may take this to mean, even though God loves the world, He especially loves those who cheerfully give. But this would mean God is partial and that He loves under certain condition.

Seems another reason why many believers are uncertain about their relationship with God.

Meaning of ‘love’ in 2Cor 9:7

The Greek word for love in this passage is agapaó.

Christians know it as ‘agape’ love.

Years ago I was taught ‘agape’ means

  • unconditional love
  • a love not based on will, it just is
  • a love not based on emotion
  • a constant love
  • only God’s love is agape

I was taught it, I believed it. No questions asked. Never did think to look up this agapaó love. I blindly accepted the traditional religious explanation.

Hmm, have you ever considered how many things, rituals, traditions, dogma you have been taught by the religious institution and blindly accepted them as gospel truth?

Greek meaning of ‘agape love –

agapaó (ag-ap-ah’-o) – I love, wish well to, take pleasure in, long for; denotes the love of reason, esteem. Cognate: agapáō – properly, to prefer, to love

Hey, this is a much bigger and better agape than I had been taught!

Even consider “God is love.” (1Jn 4:8) He is the personification of the Greek meanings of agape! Hmm.

This agape love is referenced throughout the New Testament as God’s love to man, man’s love to God, and man’s love for one another. (e.g. Jn 3:16, Rom 5;8; Jn 8:42, 1Jn 4:20; Jn 15:12, 1Pet 4:8)

Back to love and cheerful giver. Who loves who?

God does not love a cheerful giver

Be assured I am no Greek Scholar, but upon looking up this verse in the Bible Hub Concordance for Greek, I was shocked to see the grammatical order actually says –

“…a cheerful giver loves God”!

This actually makes more sense.

Consider. We love because God first loved us. God so loved the world He gave. Freely you have received, freely give.

When we grow in grasping His agape love for us, then we really will love ourselves, and in turn naturally love our ‘neighbors’.

Remember, the meaning of ‘cheerful’ (giver) – favorably disposed toward others, are disposed because satisfied, and cheerfully ready to act because already approving.

So a ‘cheerful’ giver has first experienced God cheerfully giving to them! They have encountered His approving disposition towards them. In addition they have encountered His agape love – His preference for them, His esteem of them, His pleasure in them, His longing for them, His wishing well for them.

Giving does not involve

  • I will give to show God I love Him
  • I will be happy when I give because the Bible tells me to
  • I will be a cheerful giver because the church told me I should be
  • I will give so God will love me

Giving Involves

  • I love God because He first loved me
  • God has cheerfully loved me and given to me and I have received fully
  • I love God, I am a reflection of Him, and that naturally makes me a giver and a lover
  • God loves me whether I give or not, but I want to give. It is part of my spiritual DNA!

Dig In

  • Please say the meaning of agape love over yourself – God wishes well to me, He takes pleasure in me, He longs for me, His love for me flows from reason (it is not a fickle whim), He prefers me, and He esteems me.
  • If you have trouble loving your ‘neighbor’, then maybe you still need to love yourself. But that is hard to do – until you see how wonderful you really are. When you get that it changes the way you see everyone else, besides yourself!

Love Gives and Refelcts

  • No wonder Paul prayed – “…that you being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height – to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

What Is A Cheerful Giver Really

Paul states that “…God loves a cheerful giver”. (2 Cor 9:7)

Does that mean if you are not a cheerful giver then God doesn’t love you or He doesn’t love you as much as someone who is a happy giver?

I remember being in a few services where this very cheery attitude was preached or expected. People would come down to the front with offering or tithes in hand with a huge smile on their face or laughing all the way to the collection basket.

I certainly wanted to be happy in my giving. But is this the meaning of this verse? Nope, I have discovered!

If not cheerful

Let’s say you are not a ‘cheerful giver’. Then, have you ever given:

  • grudgingly
  • out of compulsion
  • out of guilt
  • out of fear of God
  • out of what other’s think
  • for appearance’s sake
  • for personal gain
  • to manipulate or control

I confess I would have fit in most of those at one time or another.

But good news! There is no condemnation in any of the above! You and I have been caught in a trap.

Traps

Now who set that trap? Religiousity  –  man, not God.

Years ago I heard the Lord say, “silent traps”. At the time little was my understanding. But growing in fullness has significantly begun to expose these silent traps.

Because they are ‘silent’ we have no idea we are trapped. God did not make us to be trapped, confined, limited, or controlled.

Now let’s check out the word cheerful and its true Biblical meaning.

‘Cheerful’ Definition

The Greek word for ‘cheerful’ is hilarós – prop. propitious (favorably disposed toward someone); disposed because satisfied – describing someone who is cheerfully ready to act because already approving (“already persuaded”); “won over, already inclined” is only used in 2 Cor 9:7 where it describes spontaneously non-reluctant giving.

Hilarious versus Cheerful

Charismatic Religiosity taught me that this scriptural cheerful means “hilarious” – they said our word hilarious came from the Greek ‘hilarós’. Sure looks that it could have.

Even so, the definition of hilarious

  • hysterically funny, hysterical, uproarious, side-splitting, knee-slapping, boisterously merry

is a far cry (maybe I should say ‘laugh’) from the Greek ‘cheerful’ of being favorably disposed or already persuaded!

Hey, if the Spirit moves you to laugh uproariously – let ‘er rip. Love those moments.

But, 2Corinthians 9:7 is not talking about that kind of hilarity. Paul has a much richer point, which I will unfold in the next post.

For now, please realize you were not meant to be trapped in silent traps, but to be tapped into God’s wealth of grace that overflows with pure joy and simplicity. The Macedonians knew that, by the way.

Dig In

  • Listen for those silent traps of religion. Once you ‘hear’ them, and see them for what they are, get out. His powerful grace enables you to do so. Don’t be stuck in the container!Cheery or Other Do Not Be Stuck
  • God is the most joyful being around and He is always cheerfully happy in His giving. Oh to tap into that!
  • When you move into the revelation of how disposed He is towards you, how persuaded He is about your awesome being – you can’t help but be cheery! So, be of good cheer!

Next post – find out that God does not love a cheerful giver. Say what?!