Archive for May 11th, 2020

2 Corinthians 9:5-7

In 2 Corinthians 9:5-7 Paul encourages the Corinthian church to makes their gifts as they had promised. Paul wanted the whole business of the collection completed before he arrived so that there would be nothing even remotely manipulative in his receiving the collection. “So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.”  Paul was very concerned that giving be a matter of generosity and not a matter of grudging obligation. To be generous, in the Biblical idea of the word, has more to do with our attitude in giving than with the amount that we give, so God wants a willing attitude from givers.

Paul is clear that being a skimpy giver doesn’t produce much return. He uses the illustration of a farmer to make his point. A farmer sowing seed may feel he loses seed as it falls from his hand to the ground, and we may feel we are losing when we give. But just as the farmer gives the seed it in anticipation of a future harvest, we should give with the same heart. “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” Reaping bountifully means we receive blessings that are both material and spiritual. God promises to meet our needs materially. But spiritually He has given us a reward both now and for eternity.

We are never the losers when we give to God. The Lord can never be in debt to any man, and we should never be afraid of giving God “too much.” Spiritually or materially, you can’t out-give God. Calvin wrote: “This harvest should be understood both in terms of the spiritual reward of eternal life and also referring to the earthly blessings with which God honors the beneficent. Not only in heaven does God reward the well-doing of the godly, but in this world as well.” God wants us to share what He has given us (after all – it all belongs to Him anyway) with an open hand and a willing heart.

But beyond the amount, He cares about how we give in our heart. Paul says that ‘each one’ should be a giver. It is part of what being a Christ Follower is all about. We won’t all be able to give the same amount, but we can all give something. And even small gifts can be important when given with the right kind of heart. “Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Giving should never be manipulated or done for any reason than a cheerful heart. We should never force anyone to give, but it should flow out of the abundance of our love for God.

Clark explains the giving in Paul’s time this way: “The Jews had in the temple two chests for alms; the one was of what was necessary, i.e. what the law required, the other was of the free-will offerings. To escape perdition some would grudgingly, give what necessity obliged them; others would give cheerfully, for the love of God, and through pity to the poor. Of the first, nothing is said; they simply did what the law required. Of the second, much is said; God loves them… To these two sorts of alms in the temple the apostle most evidently alludes.”

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