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God Loves a Cheerful Giver
2 Corinthians 9:1. The word “for” with which this chapter begins shows that it is connected to the last verses of the preceding chapter. You see this also in 2 Corinthians 9:3 where again the brothers are mentioned of whom we read at the end of chapter 8. Paul speaks of the confidence he has in the Corinthians; he is sure that they would keep their contribution ready by the time he came to them. But note how tactfully he puts it. He tells them that it is actually superfluous for him to write to them about it. He expressly avoids a commanding tone because he is conscious of the delicateness of the subject. The act of giving should be voluntary.
2 Corinthians 9:2. Paul knew their readiness. He had boasted about them to the Macedonians. He had told them how the Corinthians began collecting money a year ago. This had a wonderful effect on the Macedonians. The Corinthian model had inspired the believers there to give what was possible and even more than what was possible. You read about this at the beginning of chapter 8. But there Paul uses the Macedonians conversely as an example for the Corinthians, because the latter had become sluggish in their collection. So you see a mutual reaction. Paul does not set the believers one against the other, but he presents them as models for one another so that one would follow the other in doing good.
It is not his intention to mobilize a contest in giving nor is it his intention to make the believers get discouraged, and think: ‘We cannot do what they do.’ He also does not specify any amount. His only intention is to set the believers as models for one another. He could have said enough negative things about the Corinthians, but he did not. He speaks to others about the good things he found in them. We must learn from Paul.
2 Corinthians 9:3. If the danger is that Paul spoke too many positive things about the Corinthians he now attempts to justify his statements. He sends the brothers to them who would see for themselves how far they fared in their collections. If they did not fare well the brothers would help them. If they kept themselves ready then in the event of Paul accompanying them it would not be necessary for him to take back his laudatory statements about them.
2 Corinthians 9:4. The Macedonians will accompany Paul. How would he face a situation if all the statements he made about the Corinthians proved false? No doubt, he will certainly be ashamed of his confidence and of course the Corinthians themselves would lose their standing.
2 Corinthians 9:5. You see how Paul helps them by all means to make their promises come true. He does not wait with folded arms and see them fall short and then come with his scathing comments (as we do sometimes). That is why he sent the brothers ahead to arrange beforehand the “bountiful gift”, they had “previously promised”.
Here the gift is called ‘bountiful’ or ‘generous’. This is a beautiful expression for your gift. With the word ‘generous’ you think only of the good things and never of the bad things. If giving is generous then you do not think about what you lose but about what good others receive through them. Then you will also not have the unpleasant feeling that you have been forced to part with your money.
Here it is not about the church tax which one must pay to defray the church’s cost of maintenance. No, it is about giving, the real giving. Do it not sparingly. Not because others should think high of you. You also should not get a high opinion about yourself saying: ‘How good I am.’ The Pharisees gave their alms this way. You must read in Matthew 6 to know how the Lord Jesus warned His disciples for that way of giving (Matthew 6:2-Numbers :). The danger of this kind of Phariseeism is in all of us.
There is a story in Acts 5:1-1 Kings : which is meaningful in this regard. The first Christians were characterized by their practical love for one another. They sold their possessions and laid the money at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:34-Haggai :). Ananias and Sapphira did not want to stand back. They sold a piece of land for a certain amount. Let us suppose they received 5000 dollars for it. They thought that it was a little too much to give the entire amount. That’s why they gave a little less.
There is nothing wrong if they had done so. But they gave as if they gave the entire proceeds of the sale. In reality they took only say 4500 dollars to the apostles. They had no obligation to give everything. Peter says later that they could have done whatever they wanted to do with that money. But they now gave the impression to the Christians that they gave everything sacrificially even though they had put 500 dollars in their pocket. What hypocrisy!
Stop, wait a minute! Do not shout too loud. Indeed, they were hypocrites and liars. But don’t you ever project yourself better than you are? God expects from you no more than what you want to and what you can give. This is primarily true of your money, but you also can apply it to your time. You say that the Lord must decide everything for you, but do you really take Him into consideration in all that you want to do? I do not speak about people’s general weakness in practice. No, I mean the illusion that we maintain that we live a life of dedication while we know that there are things in our life which do not befit a life consecrated to the Lord.
2 Corinthians 9:6. After this trip to Acts 5 we return to the chapter we are in. I wrote: Do not give sparingly. Why not? Because then you don’t get back much. In fact giving is compared to sowing. What would you say of a farmer who sows sparsely but expects a huge harvest? Your reaction is obvious. The farmer is not right in his mind. If you sow little you will reap little. The farmer who wants to have a rich harvest must sow with his hands full. This is nature’s simple instruction which Paul presents here. Everyone will agree with this fact and this principle applies to giving.
I wonder if you believe in this application. In a slightly different way but with the same goal God Himself says in Malachi 3 (let me quote the whole verse to make you aware of the importance, with the hope that you accept this challenge of God; I can assure you that it works): ““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”“ (Malachi 3:10). What a promise of God!
2 Corinthians 9:7. You might ask for a norm for giving. How much one should give? In the Old Testament the Israelites were required to give ten percent of their income. That was the law. Christians no longer live under the law but under grace. Can we use the grace of God to give lesser than what the Israelites had to give? This is just a question. Here it is stated that you may give according as you have decided in your heart. Think about it, pray about it and then give the amount.
Do not give impulsively or triggered by emotion. You might regret it later because you acted carelessly. Do not give if you do not have a desire for it. God does not love the gifts given grudgingly. Do not give either because you laid an obligation upon yourself. Forced gifts do not fit Christian giving. Give cheerfully and joyfully. You then experience God’s love in a special way. It is written: “God loves a cheerful giver.” He loves to see His own features in you. Is He not the great Giver?
Now read 2 Corinthian 9:1-7 again.
Reflection: How do you give?
Thank God for His Indescribable Gift
2 Corinthians 9:8. Paul is not exhausted by using persuasive arguments to motivate the Corinthians to giving in the right way. His arguments place ‘giving’ in divine light. He is not for exploitation. He wants believers to know about the incredible privilege of enjoying the special blessings connected with giving.
You have to do with a mighty God. Do you want to be a cheerful giver? God is able to give you in a mighty way what you need. Not a little, but in abundance. Note these words in 2 Corinthians 9:8: “all”, “always”, “all”, “everything”, “every”. Do they not speak of a great abundance?
Does it mean that God will give you much money? This is possible if need be. In any case He makes “all grace abound to you”. This is what you need first because giving starts with this. Giving begins with the attitude of your heart and then comes the doing of your hand.
He gives “all sufficiency” not to buy nice things for yourself (although sometimes you can buy nice things), but that you may “have an abundance for every good deed”. In 1 Timothy 6 you read that God gives us all things richly to enjoy. But this is immediately followed by the way you may enjoy and that is “to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share” (1 Timothy 6:17). Can it be clearer? A Christian enjoys giving. Hudson Taylor, the man who founded a great missionary work in China, once said: ‘My experience has been that the more I give to others, my soul is all the more filled with happiness and blessings.’
2 Corinthians 9:9. This verse is a quote from Psalm 112 (Psalms 112:9). There some characteristics of a Godly man are cited. One of this is giving to the poor. God gives you certain resources which when you pass on to others you show that you are God-fearing. Whatever you scatter and give to the poor is not lost. God sees it as “righteousness”, because it is a righteous act whose worth remains till eternity.
2 Corinthians 9:10. Again there is a comparison to the sower, as in 2 Corinthians 9:6, but with a different application. In 2 Corinthians 9:6 you saw that you cannot expect a great harvest if you sow sparingly. What you reap is dependent on the quantity you sow. Here the lesson is that God gives you earthly possessions firstly that you might distribute it and after that God provides what you need for a living. First He gives seed and then bread for food. It is about the order in which you deal with your property and your money. Sow and reap. Give first and then take for yourself.
Practically you can do this by first laying aside something from your income and then consider your own needs. God gives both seed and bread. Only His computations are a bit different from the way we often compute. He gives that we might first give away, and then we take something for us. Often we do it the other way round. First we take for ourselves and then we look if anything is left over for God.
We already spoke about God’s computation. God also multiplies. You get back not only the seed you scattered. You get a lot more so that you can give more in turn. The fruits of such righteous deeds always increase.
2 Corinthians 9:11-2 Kings :. It creates new wealth with which new deeds of love can be performed further. What emerges from this is thanksgiving to God. By this you go a step higher.
The closer we come to the end of the chapter the more cheering is the tone. In the previous verses the scene of action is more the earth with its needs. But in the verses following it terminates in heaven where God is and where grateful hearts praise Him until finally in the last verse God Himself is the object of admiration and adoration.
What a splendid result of a ministry that ‘only’ satisfies the practical needs of the believers. This service not only alleviates suffering but also leads to a heart overflowing with thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:13. The beneficiaries lift up their hearts to God and glorify Him. They do so because they see in the gift the giver’s commitment to the gospel of Christ. Their confession is not simply lip service but a service done with their hand. Do you see here that a joyful giving is connected with the obedience to the gospel of Christ?
You thought perhaps that the gospel is meant only for the lost sinners. Of course it has primarily to do with them. A sinner who recognizes that he is guilty before God and sees that he can be saved only by the Lord Jesus from sin and hell will gladly submit to the gospel. But here you must see that as believers the submission should be a permanent attitude and the determining factor in all things pertaining to life.
Who wants to be free from sin and judgment only and then have nothing more to do with the gospel for the rest of their life? The one who argues thus does not give the impression that he is truly converted. Subjection to the gospel with heart and soul also means a joyful submission to the good news (the meaning of the word ‘gospel’) when it comes to your money.
2 Corinthians 9:14. Apart from the fact that God returns what you gave to Him and to His own – and He always gives more than what you gave to Him and to His own, for He never will be anyone’s debtor – there is yet another beautiful result by the recipients of the gift. They will pray for you. It is of immeasurable value that people pray for you and you must appreciate this more than anything else. A special bond is formed through the gift. The receivers of the gift perceive the superabundant grace of God in you.
It is not about praising you and telling you what a great guy you are. When you give, you take part in what is called the “surpassing grace of God”. You notice how Paul is searching for words to let them know what great value giving has.
2 Corinthians 9:15. Inevitably he ends up with God as the great Giver. God has given the greatest and absolutely incomparable gift that has ever been given. God could not give a greater proof that He is the Giver than in the gift of His Son. God gave His own, only beloved Son. God did not give Him impulsively in a fit of emotion. God knew what would happen to His Son, how people would mistreat Him and in the end kill Him by letting Him die the vilest, the ugliest form of all deaths. But God gave.
God knew that this ´seed´ would bring an enormous fruit. The Lord Jesus Himself said in John 12 when He spoke of His death: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24). The Lord Jesus died as a grain of wheat and you and I and all believers are the fruit thereof. What fruit! “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
Now read 2 Corinthians 9:8-15 again.
Reflection: Get on your knees and thank God as the Giver of His Gift and submit yourself to the gospel of Christ by giving.
Kingcomments on the Whole Bible © 2021 Author: G. de Koning. All rights reserved. Used with the permission of the author
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de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op 2 Corinthians 9". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany