2 Corinthians 9:10-15(NLT) 10For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you. 11Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God. 13As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
I want to close this week by looking at 2 Corinthians chapter 9. Paul continues to talk to the church in Corinth about giving. He is not just talking to very rich or very poor people. He is talking to everyone in the Corinthian church, including the normal people who give what they can. From the 8th chapter we learned a number of things. In chapter 9 Paul is expanding on what he said in chapter 8.
Beginning in verse 6, Paul encourages the Corinthians to do two things. First, he tells them to sow abundantly. He says if they do, they will also reap abundantly. If they sow sparingly, they will reap sparingly. For those who do not believe we should expect to reap at all, this would be a problem. Paul seems to think we should reap a harvest from our giving. Jesus seems to agree since in Luke 6:38 he says God will give back to us “good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over.”
We are sowing bountifully if we are giving all we can and maybe a little more. It is not a matter of quantity so much as a matter of the heart. If you have a great deal and only give a little, the amount might sound impressive but in God’s eyes, you gave sparingly.
Remember the story of the “widow’s mite.” She gave only a small amount but because it was all she had, Jesus said she gave the largest offering of all. There were rich Pharisees who gave much more in terms of amount, but it could not match the widow’s gift in God’s eyes. Be generous in your giving. God will be generous to you as well.
The next thing Paul tells the Corinthians is that God loves a cheerful giver. That is quite a statement. I know God loves me because Jesus died for me. In this context, we might say God is pleased with someone who gives cheerfully. I am a father of six and grandfather of 13. I know when one of my kids or grandkids does something that I consider special it really blesses me. We say, “It tickled me to see him (or her) do that.” I think we might say it tickles God when he sees his children giving cheerfully.
The Amplified Bible makes it even clearer. It says that God “will not do without a cheerful, prompt to do it giver.” If he will not do without this kind of giver, it must mean he will provide for them to give. If I am a cheerful giver, God is going to see to it that I have the ability to give to every good work. That is exactly what the Lord says in verse 10.
That brings us to today’s scripture. I want to close the week by encouraging you how important it is to cultivate a giving lifestyle. We usually do not understand what a blessing it is to the ones to whom we give, to the world around and to us as well. In verse 11, Paul tells them that their giving will cause them to be enriched in every way. Part of the meaning of this verse is that the giver have what he needs to give. I believe that there is more to it than that.
When Paul says you will be enriched in every way, I believe that is exactly what he means. Last week we pointed this out, but I wanted to take a moment and reinforce this thought from these verses. Paul is indicating that the Corinthians can expect every aspect of life to be enriched if they cultivate giving as a lifestyle. I believe this to be true. I believe our giving affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually. I believe every part of our being is enriched when we give.
In verse 12, Paul begins listing some of the far-reaching benefits of the offering they will send to Jerusalem.
1. It will meet the needs of the Jerusalem church. The Corinthians’ giving will alleviate suffering for their brothers and sisters in another city.
2. These same brothers and sisters will be moved to have a thankful heart to God. There is very little a thankful people cannot face and even less they cannot accomplish.
3. Because of the giving of the church at Corinth, God will be glorified. That is the highest thing a believer can do. When our actions result in God receiving glory, we have truly done something special.
4. The giving of the Corinthian church will be physical proof of the validity of their ministry. Paul says their “generosity to them (Jerusalem) and to all believers” proves they are obedient to the Gospel.
5. Their giving will inspire the Jerusalem church to pray earnestly for them. All of us can use prayer, so that in itself is a benefit. However, I think this is pointing to something more. Why will Jerusalem pray for Corinth? It is because our giving makes a connection. When we give to someone we are jointed to them in spirit and that fellowship results in greater concern for each other. Therefore, the prayers we pray become more potent as they are motivated by the love of God.
This list gives us an idea of the impact giving has on those around us. It also gives some insight into how the grace of giving becomes a blessing to us as well. Finally, it shows how God is blessed when we choose to give. It is good to give an offering, but the real power comes from developing a lifestyle of giving. When we do, this list and its affects multiply many times over.
No wonder Paul ends chapter 9 with such glowing words. “Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!”
I pray that my life as a giver will inspire such an outburst of praise. I pray the same for you. Let us embark on this exciting adventure and we will see what God will do.