The Expository Files

 

An Abundance For Every Good Deed

 2 Corinthians 9:1-15

 


Generosity is a good trait, for who can truly know Jesus, the greatest giver of all, without being a generous person. The Scriptures state: "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich." (II Corinthians 8:9).

Unscrupulous con men wearing the guise of "evangelists" often seek to take advantage of people who are trying to obey the Lord and serve their fellow human beings. They will prey on the generosity of those who love their fellow man, working their emotions, misusing the Scripture, deceiving and manipulating people into parting with their money. Those stung in such a way (and probably every generous person has been stung a time or two... or more) sometime become cynical. We need to be as "wise as serpents" because the generous disciple is like "a sheep in the midst of wolves" (Matthew 10:16). But to forsake generosity is not the answer. It would be better to be occasionally defrauded by a liar than to cease being compassionate.

A favorite text of the religious con man "evangelist" is II Corinthians 9. He really likes to use verses 10 and 11 because he can appeal to both sides of our nature; to our desire to be unselfish and compassionate as well as our selfishness and greed. He will suggest that if you send him one hundred dollars so he can help others, these verses promise that you will get one thousand dollars back so you can help yourself. It's great to know you can get rich doing good.

Let's consider the context of this passage, which is about giving. There are several good reasons for the Christian to be generous given in this section of Scripture. Consider:

Your Giving Will Encourage Others
"For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints; for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them." (II Corinthians 9:1,2). First, Paul affirms his confidence in the zealous generosity of the Christians at Corinth. These people, through Christ, had won the victory over the selfishness that was so commonplace in their world and ours. Their lives and characters were changing as they were becoming conformed to the image of Jesus (Romans 8:29; John 13:34,35).

Also, their zeal in this regard was having a profound positive effect on others throughout Macedonia. It made Paul proud to see what God's grace was accomplishing when united with the Corinthians' faith. The worthy efforts of men and women of faith ought to be commended and their
examples ought to be followed (I Thessalonians 1:6-8).


Your Giving Will Enrich You
"Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance of every good deed; as it is written, 'He that scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever.' 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 unto God." (II Corinthians 9:6-11). It is absolutely true that giving enriches the giver. But to say this passage suggests that those who give money will be enriched monetarily in return is just not true. Such a appeal to materialism is very carnal. Sadly, many T.V. evangelists offer this very sales pitch to get people to send in their contributions to their ministry.

First, this passage assures that there is reward in giving. Jesus said, "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, they will pour into your lap. For by your standard of measure it shall be measured unto you" and "Everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters...for My name's sake, shall receive many times as much, and shall inherit eternal life." (Luke 6:38; Matthew 19:29). The blessings of giving that will be multiplied is not necessarily in the realm of material prosperity at all. There are rich blessings of a spiritual nature to reap in Christ Jesus; peace, honor, joy, dignity, fellowship and glory. These abound for the generous, and they are much better than an abundance of cash.

Secondly, it is stressed that the motive and attitude behind the giving is important. If we resent the giving, then the Scriptures say do not give. If we give because we feel we have to, then do not give. God loves cheerful and happy givers. Givers like Ananias and Sapphira had best just keep their gifts and spend it on themselves (Acts 5:1-11).

Third, the blessings reaped from being generous are to be used in God's service. This "law of harvest" was never intended to be looked upon as a carnal "get rich quick" scheme, and those who view it as such are likely to be disappointed. The blessings we receive through our endeavors give us increased ability to help others (Ephesians 4:28).

Fourth, it is God who supplies the seed; i.e. the opportunities and abilities to grow and prosper spiritually as well as physically. If we hoard the seed, spending it on ourselves and ignoring the needs of His Kingdom, we will be held accountable. But if we depend upon Him to give us what we need, then we will not be found lacking (Matthew 6:33).

Your Giving Answers the Needs of Others
"For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings unto God." (II Corinthians 9:12). The particular need to which the Corinthians were responding was to relieve the hungry among their brethren in Christ in Judea who were in the midst of a severe famine. The funds were being collected by the local church at Corinth from among its own members. Churches in other areas were following the same commanded procedure. On the first day of each week, the brethren would contribute so that when the time came to send the funds to Judea that there would not have to be a scramble to collect it all together. This continues to be the Scriptural pattern that we follow today to meet our present needs and responsibilities as a church of Christ (I Corinthians 16:1,2).

Your Giving Will Bring God Glory
"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," (II Corinthians 9:13). It is by our deeds as well as our words that we are faithful to our confession of Christ (I John 3:18-19). It is an exciting thing to see brethren prove their faith by their visible obedience of even the most sacrificial commands of our Lord and Redeemer. It is God's work within the faithful that brings about such wonderful results, and so God gets the glory (Matthew 5:16; Acts 2:44-47).

The Corinthians' reputation for generosity was deserved, because Paul points out that not only were the saints at Jerusalem beneficiaries of it, but other disciples had also been as well. Their contributions "to them and to all" was proof of their loyalty to the Lord.

Your Giving Will Remind All of God's Gifts
"...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!" (II Corinthians 9:14,15). What a remarkable thing to have happened in the first century world! Such compassion, loyalty and love between Christians of Jewish descent and their Gentile brethren in Christ. Jews "yearning" for Gentiles! Perhaps this brotherhood between former antagonists was the "indescribable gift" to which Paul refers.

At any rate, let us remember that we are disciples of the Master Giver. When we have given everything we are and have, God will still have given us far more (John 3:16).

  By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 21.8; August 2014

 

 

 

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