Reading for Friday, Sept 28: 2 Cor 9
Paul continues his thought re: giving. He is still encouraging the Corinthians, this time to be ready to contribute as these workers are coming to them (v5). And he underscores a key component of Christian giving: “Then it will be ready as a generous gift, not as one grudgingly given.” Paul sees this as more than mere charity; he understands giving as a gift freely chosen, not a begrudging requirement. Often this conversation is laced with guilt in our churches, but Paul directs the conversation into more positive terrain. Give freely, in light of the great gift of salvation the Lord has imparted to us.
“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously,” (v6). The condition of one’s heart is directly related to the blessing (or lack thereof) that the giver will receive. Indeed, God loves cheerful generosity. “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,” (v8). God is the source of our gifts, and He gives them in great abundance. God’s great generosity animates our giving. And listen to the promise here: “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,” (v11). This verse is to be understood communally. We each have gifts to varying degrees: some are wealthier than others in terms of finances; others possess great relational gifts or gifts of service. But when we put all of these gifts on the table and agree to live generously as a community, the body of Christ flourishes.
Because of this generosity, Paul says, “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,” (v13). Our gifts lead to God receiving praise from the hearts and lips of men. And God willfully grants us participation in this work.
In light of this, Paul’s praise explodes: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (v15).