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2 Corinthians 9:7-8 1

7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Background

Our lesson for this Sunday is about Stewardship. From these two verses, we can look at an outline of the principles of generous giving from the Apostle Paul. Much of this study material was taken from the Commentaries of William Barclay.

Paul would insist to us today, that no person was ever a loser because they were generous. Giving is like sowing seed. The man who sows with a sparing hand cannot hope for anything but a meagre harvest, but the man who sows with a generous hand will in due time reap a generous return. Paul is quoting from Psalms 112:3 and Psalms 112:9. In verse 6, he is describing a good and generous person. “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” This is a consistent theme through the Bible. There is a slight shift in the rewards, however, that the New Testament envisions for us, They are never material, never the promise of “things,” but rather the wealth of the heart and of the human spirit.  What then are the rewards we can claim today?

  • We will be rich in love, Christ’s kind of love.
  • We will be rich in friends. Generosity typically instills in the hearts of others, endearing emotions.
  • We will be rich in help. Some day, each of us will need the help which others can give, and, if we have been sparing in our help to them, the likelihood is that they will be sparing in their help to us. Use a large measure here.
  • We will be rich towards God. Jesus taught us that what we do to others, we typically also do for God.

The Apostle Paul insists that it is the happy giver who God loves. We can find this in Deuteronomy 15:7-11. Here is defined our duties with regard to generosity to the poor. Deuteronomy 15:10 says, “Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to.” 

Paul insists that God can give a person both the substance to give and the spirit in which to give it. In 2 Corinthians 9:8 he speaks of the all-sufficiency which God gives us.  Hence, God Gives, and Gives, and Gives. The Greek word Paul uses is autarkeia. This was one of his favorite words. It does not describe the sufficiency of the person who possesses all kinds of things in abundance. It means independence. It describes the state of a person who has directed their life, not to amassing possessions, but by eliminating needs. It describes a person who has taught themselves to be content with very little. What can a God-directed life then do? 

It can do something for others:
  • Relieve their needs. 
  • Restore their faith in their fellow men.
  • It can make them thank God. 
It can do something for ourselves:
  • It assures our Christian profession, to live the Gospel.
  • It wins us both the love and the prayers of others.
  • It does something for God.

In this chapter, Paul turns the thoughts of the Corinthians to the gift of God in Jesus Christ,. He reminds them that this Gift, whose wonder can never be exhausted, whose story can never be fully told, tells them that it was because of God’s generosity through His gift of Jesus, that we now have an example of how to achieve joy in our world. The Greek word Paul used “hilaros” is translated “cheerful” and means pretty much the same today, cheerful, joyous. But it also contains a sense of readiness. It means to be ready to act at a moment’s notice, to be prepared.

Items for Discussion

  • How can we become more cheerful givers?
  • What does Paul mean by being ready?
  • With today’s economy, it can be difficult for even the most faithful to give to the church cheerfully, either joyously or readily. There are some things we can do, however, that might help change our attitude and get us ready. Please share your ideas?
  • Are there a basic biblical principles for Christian giving? What might some of them be?
  • Paul in chapter 8:12 talks about proportional giving. What do you think this means?
  • Giving benefits the one who gives the gift and the one who receives the gift. Where do people get this concept wrong?
  • List all of the benefits you can think of associated with giving?

Discussion Challenge

  • If the issue of “needs”, “money”, “poor” are not solvable problems, what should we do about them?

Notes:

  1. NIV New International Version Translations
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