Giving (“with liberality”) and showing mercy (“with cheerfulness”) relate to sharing material aid with those in need, as well as supporting God's servants in ministry.
Giving of any material with cheerfulness is a manner that God loves. He is the greatest giver and so loves it. When we manifest Him in any way, it pleases Him. Only with God is such a thing not conceited.
Although he did not request personal support, Paul spent close to ten years soliciting funds for what is commonly referred to as the Jerusalem collection. This was a collection he took up among the Gentile churches to help Judean believers who were facing harder than usual economic times as a result of a famine during the mid to late 40s. Paul and Barnabas made an initial famine-relief visit to Jerusalem in A.D. 46 and delivered a monetary gift from the church at Antioch (ACT 11:29-30). At that time the Jerusalem church expressed the hope that the believers associated with Paul would continue to remember the Judean believers, which Paul was more than eager to do (GAL 2:10).
The collection effort was successfully completed in A.D. 57, and the funds were delivered by Paul and a group of delegates chosen by the contributing Gentile churches. In ROM 15:26 Paul states that the churches of Macedonia and Achaia "were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem," but the actual list of contributing churches is much longer. Luke's list includes delegates from Berea, Thessalonica, Derbe and Asia. The church at Philippi is without a delegate, but Luke himself may have functioned in this capacity. Timothy, who is included in the list, undoubtedly represented Lystra. Corinth was also without a delegate, but they may well, in the end, have asked Paul (or possibly Titus) to represent them.
A fundraising effort of this kind requires enormous investments of time and energy, and the need was genuine. The Jerusalem collection was first and foremost an act of charity. Famine on top of persistent food shortages, double taxation and overpopulation, which the expulsion of the Jews from Rome contributed to, crippled an already precarious Palestinian economy. The situation was undoubtedly aggravated by a voluntary pooling of assets in the early years of the church's existence (ACT 2:44-46; 4:32-37) and the constant need for the mother church to support the itinerant activities of its members and extend hospitality to visitors from other churches. Then too it was common, as it is today, for diaspora Jews to settle in and around the "holy city" at retirement; the result was a steady increase of widows and elderly in need of assistance.
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. 7 Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; 9 as it is written,
"He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor,
His righteousness abides forever."
10 Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God [the poor are helped]. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God [not to those giving but to God who showed them graciousness]. 13 Because of the proof given by this ministry they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all, 14 while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you [your spiritual life] because of the surpassing grace of God in you. 15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Giving must be generous and without fear, for God will supply seed to the sower. One does not have to be rich. If God gives material to you, and to everyone He has, we are to be very gracious with it. God will provide, but that doesn’t mean the standards that someone would call rich in society. Rich is comparative. The widow gave two copper coins, two pennies, and Jesus said she put more in the treasury than all the rest.
Earlier I said that if God does supply you with material abundance it is because you are gracious. I need to clarify my meaning. Graciousness does not guarantee material abundance. Please note that I said “If God supplies you.” Ill gotten gains from selfishness and greed are not from God, though allowed by Him. If God has given you a lot of seed or a little, He expects you to invest it. Refer to the parable of the minas.
God always uses Himself as the example to follow, EPH 5:1; JOH 13:34, “Just as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love.” So should we.
In giving, God uses Himself again as the example, and in dramatic fashion, the giving of His only-begotten Son.
15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
Mercy - eleeo (el-eh-eh-o). To feel sympathy or pity for another.
We find several people asking Jesus to show them mercy in the gospels. We see Paul stating that though he was the chief of sinners, he was shown mercy by God. We hear that God’s throne is a place of grace and mercy where we find help in time of need.
The gift of faith has to do with believing God’s promises for what He wants to accomplish in the church's ministry, that He will lead and provide.
One would wonder if all believers received this gift and that when they mature it would function as it should, but 1CO 12:9 indicates that it is to some and not all. Obviously, all of us are to have mountains of faith, but the text of 1Co 12 shows us that different members possess these different gifts.
For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
“To another” - heteros means another of a different sort.
Different members receive different gifts and some the same. God puts the members in a local church teaching truth as He sees fit. In each local assembly, God has put members who desire to serve with different spiritual gifts as He sees fit.
Some argue that the gift of faith was a temporary gift, but it is not a miraculous gift in the sense of miracles or healing, tongues. If we argue that faith as a gift was temporary then perhaps exhortation and mercy are as well. In my humble opinion, the gift of faith is permanent throughout the church age.
The discerning of spirits (1CO 12:10 - temporary) was important in the early church since Satan tried to counterfeit the work of God and the Word of God.
Today, the Spirit especially uses the written Word to give us discernment (1JOH 2:18-24; 4:1-6). Since there are no prophets in the church today, we need not worry about false prophets; but we do have to beware of false teachers (2PE 2:1).
We could also add deacons, elders (presbuteros), overseers (episkopos), and still there is no indication that we have an exhaustive, comprehensive list.
Some have categorized the various gifts as the speaking gifts, the sign gifts, and the serving gifts. We must be careful not to over categorize while losing the main reason they are listed.
We should not be so fascinated by the individual gifts that we forget the main reason why Paul listed them: to remind us that they unite us in our ministries to the one body.
The Holy Spirit bestows these gifts "as He will" (1CO 12:11), not as we will. No Christian should complain about his or her gifts, nor should any believer boast about his or her gifts. We are many members in one body, ministering to each other.
A misinterpretation of the diversity in the body of Christ will lead to division. A right understanding of its diversity will lead to more unity.