Summary: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! Jesus is the most generous gift the world will ever know. With hearts full of joy, we are called to give generously, joyfully and hilariously to the work of God!
This section of Paul’s letter ends with powerful words of praise. They could almost be the title of a worship song because they are powerful words of praise, thanksgiving and truth:
“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” (9:15)
2 Corinthians 8 and 9 focus upon generosity in giving. The Christians in Jerusalem are experiencing extreme hardship and Paul is making advance preparations to take a gift to provide for basic necessities. More about that in a moment because Paul finishes this section, this ‘chapter’ of his letter with the reason why Christians love to give!
We love to give because we believe and we say this: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
The gift of Jesus – the gift of salvation – is indescribable. It is “too wonderful for words” (CEV). It is the most generous gift that there has ever been and it is the most generous gift there will ever be.
Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Verse 6: “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
It’s a bit like sending out invitations to a party. Send out 5 invites and you might get 3 or 4 people at your party. Send out 100 and you could easily get 80 or 90 or more.
Paul was a Jewish-Bible believer before becoming a follower of Jesus, so he knew his scriptures and as he wrote these words he must’ve had Old Testament words of God ringing in his ears.
That’s a challenge to us in itself! When we talk, discuss, encourage, challenge, rebuke, build each other up, where do our words come from? Human wisdom takes us only so far, whereas the Bible is God’s wisdom.
So what did Paul have in his mind as he wrote this? Well, in the Old Testament, when God’s people enjoyed a good harvest it was a blessing from God (Gen 26:12) and it was a result of obedience to God (Lev 26:3-5). More than that, disobedience could lead to drought and to a poor harvest (Lev 26:18-20). Now that did not mean that every poor harvest was a result of disobedience; but Paul knew that disobedience led to a poor harvest.
As he wrote to the Corinthians Paul would also have had words of the Lord Jesus in mind:
For example Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
I think Paul also had in mind the Parable of the farmer who scattered his seed (Mark 4:3-8). The farmer didn’t plant a few seeds sparingly. No, he scattered his seed generously, and Paul wants the Corinthian church to have these words of God going through their minds as they hear this letter read out.
Friends, I don’t want you to hear me. I want you to hear the Father of Jesus because “whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
At no point this evening will you hear me mention that biblical ‘10%’ T-word. I won’t mention it because Paul wanted the Corinthians to give money to suffering Christians out of a generous heart, “not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” (2 Cor 9:7)
In 1996 the Church of England newspaper had a story about the Sweet Haven Holy Church of God in Carrollton, Virginia. The article said that the church had a new way of attracting visitors, and increasing weekly collections. Everyone who put money on the collection plate was given a raffle ticket, and later in the service one ticket number was read out. The winner received $100 out of the collection plate! (Just in case you are wondering, I don’t want to copy that!)
There is great joy in giving to those who are in need, when we give out of a generous heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Are we people who with our heads believe in Jesus, or are we people who love Jesus with our hearts and our minds, and desire to have the attitudes of Jesus. Are we people that desire to become more like Jesus in thought, word and deed? Even with our giving?
The Christians in Jerusalem were in great need. Paul was not going to instruct individual members of the church how much they should give, but he needed them to know in advance that he was expecting each one to make a glad and cheerful decision about how much to give.