Text: 2 Corinthians 9:5; Deuteronomy 5:21

The Tenth Commandment warns us against the sin of covetousness (Deut. 5:21). We are indulging in covetousness when we desire something that belongs to our neighbour which God had not appointed unto us. The Westminster Shorter Catechism teaches us that the Tenth Commandment forbids all “discontentment with our own estate, envying or grieving at the good of our neighbour, and all inordinate motions and affections to anything that is his.” On the other hand, it requires us “full contentment with our own condition, with a right and charitable frame of spirit toward our neighbour, and all that is his.”

When covetousness festers in our hearts, it can lead to an excessive greed-iness and a grudging stingy spirit towards giving. Thus, the Apostle Paul warns the Corinthian Christians not to let covetousness hinder them from giving to the relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem. While the size of the gift is never an issue, the Corinthian Christians should take care that the gift does not appear miserly and insincere.

We can become covetous when we love our possessions more than God. Some think that they can be in two camps at the same time – loving the world and loving God. However, the Bible says that no man can serve two masters, for he will either love the one and hate the other. One cannot serve God and Mammon. Alas, in a world that focuses on getting rich quickly, it is so easy to put our trust in our perishing possessions. This causes our love for God to grow dim. When we do not love God, we will find it hard to part with our possessions. Consequently, our giving towards God will also be lacking.

The Bible also says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Tim. 6:10). One way in which this evil manifests itself is in a person’s refusal to help those who are in need with his possessions. “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.” (James 4:17) In the case of the Corinthian Christians, it would be the grudging refusal to help the poor saints in Jerusalem. We must take care not to have the same spirit.

What then is the cure of covetousness. 1 Timothy 6:6 has the answer – “But godliness with contentment is great gain.” To be godly is to pursue after Christ-likeness. When we are walking close to the Lord, the things of the world will grow strangely dim. We will view possessions rightly in the light of the Scriptures – that the possessions are only useful if we use them to serve the Lord. Thus, this guards us from a heart of covetousness. Consequently, we too will learn to be generous in our giving.

THOUGHT: Do I have a covetous heart?
PRAYER: Lord, guard my heart from covetousness.


Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-11; Acts 20:35

There is little blessing to those who are covetous and stingy of heart. On the other hand, great blessing belongs to those who willingly give unto the Lord and the saints. Paul illustrated this truth using an example from agriculture which was familiar to the Corinthian Christians. A farmer who sows few seeds will naturally reap a small harvest. On the other hand, the hardworking farmer who sows more seeds will have a larger yield. Similarly, the one who refuses to give will receive little blessing, but the one who abounds in giving would receive a rich blessing.

The second principle highlighted by the Apostle Paul is the attitude of giving. We are to be “cheerful” givers. The Greek word for “cheer” is where we get the English term “hilarious”. This points to a giving with a happy and cheerful disposition. Why should the believer be cheerful his giving? Because he understands that all he has comes from God, his heart is full of cheer when his possessions are put to proper use to glorify God. When he understands that all that he has belongs to God, he is more than happy to return his possessions unto God. On the other hand, a lack of cheerfulness indicates a heart that is grudging and covetous. Such a man has forgotten the goodness of the Lord, and is thus most miserable in his spirit.

Our attitude of giving reveals our heart for the Lord. What is your spirit when you return your tithes and offerings unto God?

The third principle taught in this passage is that God is no debtor to man. “When we give, God takes notice. He will not be indebted to us (and will never be). He promises to supply all our needs. This includes physical and spiritual needs.” (Khoo)

Acts 20:35 restates the passage in this way – “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remem-ber the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Society often teaches us the reverse, that one should seek to receive rather than to give. On the other hand, Scripture teaches us to put others before self, just like the example of Christ. Those who follow the generous model of Christ will be richly blessed.

The Rev Timothy Tow used to liken a miserly person to the Dead Sea which is always receiving water from the River Jordan, and yet it is dead. On the other hand, the generous man is like the Sea of Galilee which keeps giving to the Jordan, and yet is full of life. Which one are you? The Dead Sea or the Sea of Galilee?

THOUGHT: It is more blessed to give than to receive.
PRAYER: Lord, teach me to give cheerfully.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew