Summary: 1) The Proverb 2) The Word 3) The Provision& 4) The Harvest of giving
What do Bill Gates & Mother Teresa have in common? Generosity. Being generous is a godly motive for ministry. In Corinth, False teachers were questioning Paul’s motives for ministry. Evidently they were suggesting that Paul was pocketing contributions earmarked for the poor believers in Jerusalem. Consequently the Corinthians, despite their announced willingness to help, had not donated to the cause (Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. 2 Co 9:10).
Many residents of Jerusalem had undoubtedly lost their jobs in the waves of persecution that came after the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1). However, the Corinthians had not yet suffered persecution and deprivation like the Macedonians; 8:1–4). They were wealthy enough to help meet the huge need with a generous monetary gift (MacArthur, John Jr: The MacArthur Study Bible. electronic ed. Nashville : Word Pub., 1997, c1997, S. 2 Co 9:12)
Given the other biblical commands to care for our families (1 Tim. 5:8) and the practical reality that giving everything we have would render us unable to continue to have a base capital to help others thereby causing us to be a self-made burden on others, how are we to have a giving spirit?
Paul presents four principles that are not directed to the Corinthian church as a whole but to individuals whose contributions will make up the church’s gift. First, he 1) Appeals to a proverb to make the point that bountiful giving leads to bountiful rewards; stingy giving leads to stingy rewards (9:6). Second, he 2) Cites Scripture to encourage giving generously and freely because God loves a cheerful giver (9:7). Third, he refers to 3) God’s readiness to provide all that is necessary for generosity (9:8–10). Paul reassures those who might worry that they do not have enough seed to sow to attain a rich harvest. God will provide all that they need. Fourth, he maintains that their 4) Generosity will bring a great harvest of thanksgiving to God (9:11).
1) The Proverb: 2 Corinthians 9:6
2 Corinthians 9:6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. (ESV)
Paul’s first point draws on a well-known analogy from farming: those who sow sparingly will get a spare harvest/ reap sparingly, those who sow generously/ bountifully will get a generous harvest/ reap bountifully.
Proverbs 11:24 provides a biblical parallel
Proverbs 11:24-25 One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want. Whoever brings blessing will be enriched, and one who waters will himself be watered. (ESV)
What does this mean? Dealing directly with the proverb: No farmer considers sowing as a loss of seed because the harvest will provide the seed for the next season. Consequently, no sower begrudges the seed he casts upon the ground or tries to scrimp by with sowing as little as possible. He willingly sows all that he can and trusts that God will bless the sowing with a bountiful harvest. If the farmer, for some reason, stints on the sowing, he will cheat himself of that harvest. The more he sows, the greater the harvest he will reap and the more he will have for sowing for the next harvest. Applying this analogy to giving means that plentiful giving will result in a plentiful harvest. But what kind of harvest is reaped by generosity?
North and east of ancient Corinth, fields led down to the coast each side of the isthmus connecting the mainland and the Peloponnese (Peter Naylor. 2 Corinthians. An EP Study Commentary. Evangelical Press. 2002.p.60).
• As we come into this harvest season the fields around us speak of this proverb.
The Greek expression ep eulogiais ordinarily translated “with blessings,” here has the sense of “freely.” While it does not suggest “undiscriminating” giving, it does denote “unrestrained” giving (KJV Bible Commentary. Nashville : Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1994, S. 2357).
• We still have responsibilities of stewardship in our giving.
But this verse must be interpreted in terms of what follows. Paul does not pass this principle off as a shrewd investment strategy on how to reap greater material blessings by giving a portion of it to others. If one gives in hopes of attaining greater material prosperity, then one will harvest only spiritual poverty. Paul makes clear in what follows that God rewards generosity with material abundance to make it possible for people to be even more generous.
Quote: An old English proverb warns, “He who serves God for money will serve the devil for better wages.”
We have seen 1) The Proverb: 2 Corinthians 9:6 and now:
2) The Word: 2 Corinthians 9:7
2 Corinthians 9:7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (ESV)