The favorite that got it all started was this:
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; you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God. 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. 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, while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! --2 Corinthians 9:10-15
It makes me realize that we have the privilege of clearly being a channel of God's provision, that what we can provide for others and do for His Kingdom is really vast, in spite of the fact that our lives on earth are finite--sort of like how the electricity going through a wire can continue as long as the switch is on. Our service doesn't depend on the size of our bank account, or how much food is in our fridge, or how much gas is in our car; the source is God, not ourselves. Which brings me to the perfect biblical example of this picture:
Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, said to Him, "There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?" Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." John 6:8
I could go on typing, but I think you know the story, and how it illustrates the verse above. If one boy's little loaves of bread and little bit of fish can feed the five thousand (plus their wives and kids), God is just waiting for the opportunity to show Himself off through us. Not only that, He tells us many times that He wants us to be out and about, doing His will, His work.
Whoever serves is to do so a one who serves in the strength that God supplies... 1 Peter 4:11
We are capable of providing to others beyond our own capability:
Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5Our abundance, even if we have earned it, is a gift from God, not for our own good but for the good of those around us.
Our abundance a supply for their need 2 Corinthians 8:14
But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality--at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack." 2 Corinthians 8:7-15
The pattern I was realizing as I thought about this first verse was that in many cases, God asks us to give because of what we have already received at His hand.
What do you have that you did not receive? 1 Corinthians 4:7b
...bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. ... Colossians 3:13
We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19
Sometimes He isn't stressing what we have already received, but even better, what we have been promised that we will someday receive--maybe even in the here and now as well:
"Will a man rob God? Yet you are robbing Me! But you say, 'How have we robbed You?' In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you are robbing Me, the whole nation of you! "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows. Then I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of the ground; nor will your vine in the field cast its grapes," says the LORD of hosts. "All the nations will call you blessed, for you shall be a delightful land," says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:8-12
But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:18-19
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. Colossians 3:23-24
"Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions." Mark 11:25
Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-7
Sometimes it states both reasons--because of what we have received and because of what will be given--which really apply in all cases anyway:
"But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.
"Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure--pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return." Luke 6:35-38
When we don't do what God intends, it brings others to have to fill the gap:
Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard; because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me. Philippians 2:29-30
And the utmost reason to be active in His service,
"The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.' Matthew 25:40