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2Corinthians 9 (web)

Motivating Generosity

Reminding the Saints

9:1 It is indeed unnecessary for me to write to you concerning the service to the saints,
9:2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast on your behalf to them of Macedonia,
that Achaia has been prepared for a year past. Your zeal has stirred up very many of them.
9:3 But I have sent the brothers that our boasting on your behalf may not be in vain in this respect,
that, just as I said, you may be prepared,
9:4 so that I won't by any means, if there come with me any of Macedonia and find you unprepared,
we (to say nothing of you) should be disappointed in this confident boasting.
9:5 I thought it necessary therefore to entreat the brothers that they would go before to you,
and arrange ahead of time the generous gift that you promised before,
that the same might be ready as a matter of generosity, and not of greediness.

The Principle of Sowing and Reaping

9:6 Remember this:
he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly.
He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
9:7 Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart;
not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
9:8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that you,
always having all sufficiency in everything, may abound to every good work.
9:9 As it is written, "He has scattered abroad, he has given to the poor.
His righteousness remains forever." (Ps 112:9)
9:10 Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food,
supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;
9:11 you being enriched in everything to all liberality, which works through us thanksgiving to God.
9:12 For this service of giving that you perform not only makes up for lack among the saints,
but abounds also through many givings of thanks to God;
9:13 seeing that through the proof given by this service,
they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ,
and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all;
9:14 while they themselves also, with supplication on your behalf,
yearn for you by reason of the exceeding grace of God in you.
9:15 Now thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift!

Discussion Questions

vs 1-5 What words describe the Corinthian's attitude towards giving?
If you were to motivate people to give, what kind of hinderances and reluctance would you have to overcome?
How do you keep aware of the needs of the saints?
What techniques will help to make us reliable givers?
vs 6-15 How much does Paul advocate people give?
Does he even mention tithing (10% giving)?
What benefits may the giver receive from his generosity?
Besides meeting material needs, how might meeting material needs benefit the ministry spiritually?


Enthusiastic Generosity is Contagious

2Cor 9:1,2 There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action.

Have you ever noticed your enthusiasm for something influencing others? Have you yourself ever been stirred to action by the enthusiasm by others? The word "enthusiasm" here in the NIV is elsewhere often translated "zeal". "Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord." Rom 12:11 "It is fine to be zealous, provided the purpose is good, and to be so always and not just when I am with you." Gal 4:18 

Churches which are not application oriented are often so because of a lack of enthusiastic individuals whose actions prompts others to take action on their faith. "Therefore, prepare your minds for action" 1Pet 1:13a

Overseeing the Ministry

2Cor 9:3-5 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we— not to say anything about you— would be ashamed of having been so confident. So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to visit you in advance and finish the arrangements for the generous gift you had promised. Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.

One can divide most organizations into laborers and administrators for good reason. For there are those who are available with resources but without oversight such resources may go to waste. Granted that each of us individually as mature adults may play both roles with regards to our personal lives. But to assure the completion of a project it is best to have those devoted to overseeing its completion.

This is why the church has overseers. But such overseers must be of a proper character quality and perspective.

 "Since an overseer is entrusted with God’s work, he must be blameless— not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain." Titus 1:7

"Here is a trustworthy saying: If anyone sets his heart on being an overseer, he desires a noble task. Now the overseer must be above reproach, the husband of but one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not given to drunkenness, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)  He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil. He must also have a good reputation with outsiders, so that he will not fall into disgrace and into the devil’s trap." 1Tim 3:1-7

And to overseers Peter writes, "Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers— not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock." 1Peter 5:2,3

And you can see particularly in this case that greediness must be avoided in handling other people's money.

The Principle of Christian Generosity

2Cor 9:6,7  Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Unike under the Old Covenant where people were under obligation to tithe, those under the New Covenant are under no such obligations. Rather Christians practice generosity from the heart. Tithing, being an obligation, is not an act of generosity. For nothing which is an obligation is an act of generosity. Consequently I would say that if you haven't made a pledge to give to some cause, as the Corinthians had in this case, and if you feel reluctant in your heart to give, then don't give. In fact concerning the amount of one's generosity I would recommend one give only up to the amount they don't feel reluctant to give. As for the direction of one's generosity, the Bible primarily directs it to the poor, and poor Christians having the priority as it says, "as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers." Gal 6:10, which is in fact the subject of the Corinthian's donation.

One thing that motivates the degree of one's generosity is the degree of fruitfulness it brings, just as the farmer who sows sparingly also reaps sparingly, but those sowing bountifully generally reap bountifully.

Proverbs also speaks of principles of generosity:

"One man gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty." Pr 11:24

"He who is kind to the poor lends to the LORD, and he will reward him for what he has done." Pr 19:17 

"A generous man will himself be blessed, for he shares his food with the poor."
Pr 22:9

And Jesus said:

"Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." Luke 6:38 

God Provides Resources for the Generous

2Cor 9:8,9  And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: "He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." (Ps 112:9)

Paul clips a verse from Ps 112, but insightful to read the context which says, "\Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice. Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever. He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes. He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be lifted high in honor. The wicked man will see and be vexed, he will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing." Ps 112:5-10

And while the generous may experience difficulties, such is the case in the end. And King David, though himself experienced with difficulties writes of his observation, "I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be blessed." Ps 37:25,26

God Provides Wealth for Generosity

2Cor 9:10,11 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.

Contrary to the selfish greedy "health and weath" gospel, the blessings promised for one's generosity are intended to be utilized in further generosity, rather than being wasted on one's own vain and covetous desires. For the reason why God makes one rich is in order that they may be generous on every occasion.

And Paul writes:
"Command (rich Christians) to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life." 1Tim 6:18,19
And what is expected of the receivers of such donations but thanksgiving to God, which of course should be the natural thing to do.

Interesing also that verse 9 is a take on Isaiah 55:10,11 "As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

Thus another form of generosity is sharing the Word of God. So if you don't have much in the way of money, there you go!

Praise Results from Generosity

2Cor 9:12,13  This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.

The expected result of generosity is thanksgiving to God. And consequently the direction of one's giving should be primarily directed to those who believe in God - as described in the Bible. (Gal 6:10) Common for non-Christians to thank you for your generosity, but thanking the God of the Bible is another matter. But in any case whomever you give to, remind them not to simply thank you, but to thank God, who put it in your heart to give. Yet seldom in the Christian community have I heard these type of rhetoric characteristic of Paul's perspective where for example he says, "I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you." 2Cor 8:16

As for the "obedience which accompanies your confession of the gospel", there's much to be said about that. The word in Greek is not expressing the sense of obligation, but rather as the lexicon has it "a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden". Such a voluntary attitude comes naturally to the Christian as such a person is born-again and given the Spirit of God as Ezekiel says, "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." Eze 36:26,27 But while the Spirit prompts us to action, it's still a voluntary act to cooperate with the Spirit of God.

Give and You Shall be Prayed For

2Cor 9:14,15 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Be encouraged to pray for other Christians around the world who may not be affiliated with your particular church. For we are one body, having the same Spirit. And if you want people to pray for you, then practice generosity. For people praying for you is a byproduct of your generosity.

What is the surpassing grace given them? There are a numbers of mention of grace. In 2Cor 8:1,2 he speaks of the "the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.", which is to say that God's grace in that case was God imparting the Macedonians with a spirit of generosity. And he encourages the Corinthians to "excel in this grace of giving." 2Cor 8:7b But right after this he speaks of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, "that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich." 2Cor 8:9

In fact the "indescribable gift" may allude to all these kinds of things. For it was because of Christ's sacrifice that they were given the Spirit of God which imparts spiritual gifts and invokes character qualities such as generosity.

It's interesting though that he speaks of the gift being "indescribable", and yet the preaching the gospel involves telling people about the grace of God in Christ paying for sin. Yet there's a depth to God's grace which cannot be communicated by words but rather we gain by experiencing it. The word "surpassing" is "huperballo" in the Greek, which is where we get the word hyperbole. God's grace is transcendant. One cannot make too much of it.

The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources

Edition: Aug 15,2020