Mary Williams, a retired Seattle librarian, has baked about 5,000 fruitcakes in her life. Over a period of more than 30 years, she spent her holidays baking as many as 500 fruitcakes in a single season. Her top-secret recipe has attracted customers from Dallas, Texas, and Birmingham, Alabama. She sold them for $10 apiece and gave the money to charities that help children in need, including the George Mueller orphanage in England, and more recently, a Mission of Mercy project for children in Afghanistan.
Mary Williams’s spirit of generosity is a good example of what Paul talked about in today’s passage. We see that generosity is one of the fruits of grace; that is, our good work of giving is linked directly to our experience and understanding of grace. In just the way we’ve been studying, generosity cannot buy salvation, but it is one of the good works that flow from it. In the previous chapter, Paul had already referred to the “grace of giving” and held up the Macedonians as an example of sacrificial excellence. Through generosity to the needy, they proved the sincerity of their love and honored the ultimate grace of Christ’s Incarnation (2 Cor. 8:1–9).
What happens when we give? “Whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (v. 6; cf. Luke 6:38). We can give in faith, knowing that our generous God is taking care of us and will never be outgiven. And what does He give back? Abundant grace! So by grace we give generously, and in return we receive back even more grace, which in turn leads to even more good works (v. 8). This is a true harvest of righteousness, made possible by our great Provider (v. 10).
We see that even the way we give—cheerfully and willingly—reflects grace. We can imitate models such as the Macedonians, but giving is not about peer pressure or showing off. Instead, it’s about how much we trust the Lord (see Luke 21:1–4).