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2nd Corinthians
Chapter 9

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2 Corinthians Chapter 9
Commentary by Ron Beckham

Verse 1.  "For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints;"

Some things are just self-evident (it's superfluous to even talk about them).  You don’t steal.  Adultery is simply wrong.  Murder is unthinkable, and that includes the willful killing of an unborn baby.  Down deep, you know you should not do these things.  All these are wrong because of another very evident truth:  God is real and He said in His commandments to us:   "Don’t!"

In addition to - do NOT do this or that, we are to DO certain things as well.  We are to have hearts and hands that give to others in their need.  One of the great themes in Scripture is that we are to share what we have with widows, orphans, and the stranger in our midst (for instance, the homeless).  And if we look deep inside, we already know this.  We only pretend to ourselves that we do not know, because we are a selfish people.

Verse 2.  "for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them."

The other day, I talked with the former pastor of a large church (for 25-years), who is now a "financial advisor".  He expressed pleasure that he was out of the ministry, citing his parishioners as the reason he left.  "At least now they (his customers) are honest with me about their finances" he said.  His former "clients" (his parishioners) had not given sufficiently for projects within the church, which caused him to experience frustration.

Generally, where the church is alive spiritually, the members GIVE liberally.   This was Dr. J. Vernon Mc Gee’s observation and he went on to state, "I have … been to some churches that really are dead spiritually.  They don’t give much, for they are dead in their giving.  The size of the offering is a pretty good barometer."  A group of people with a generous, willing heart, such as these Corinthians had become, tends to be contagious, and stirs others to give as well.

Verse 3.  "But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, so that, as I was saying, you may be prepared;"

Paul really KNEW people.  "I’ll pray for you," we say, and then we forget.  Things come up and we often don’t follow through.  The Corinthians had made a "pledge" of what apparently was a generous amount of money.   Paul, who was bragging about their generosity to other Christians, was holding them accountable, and would send men to help them remember.

Verse 4.  "otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we -- not to speak of you -- will be put to shame by this confidence."

The Macedonians had very little, but they gave a lot (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-3).   Paul had used them as an example to spur the Corinthians (who had more than the Macedonians).

It is important that we follow through on our promises and be people who keep our word.   I’ve seen many people shake their heads and say, "Don’t work with Christians; they’re the worst!"  And the sad thing is, many "christians" are less than reliable in business dealings.

Jesus said "let your ‘yes’ be yes, and your ‘no’ be no" (Matthew 5:37).  In other words, if you say something, DO what you have said.  If you promise something, then do it.  Paul, who had much experience with people, was making sure they would follow through.  This is much like the good parent who tells the child not to run out into the street, and then also WATCHES to make sure the child stays on the sidewalk.

Verse 5.  "So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness."

We’ve got a lot to learn about planning.  We impulsively say, "I’ll do…(this or that)" but we have no plan for carrying out our promise and we do nothing.  God, who places His purposes into your heart, also provides the methods for getting them done.  If the Corinthians just put a little money aside, here and there (Paul was suggesting), the gift would not be burdensome at all.

When you are ready with a gift in plenty of time, it’s not a strain and you’re glad to give it.  But waiting until the last minute is stressful and the tendency is to resent the giving.  Jesus said "My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matthew 11:30), but we often make things harder than they need to be.

Verse 6.  "Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully."

If we invest just a little bit of money, we stand to make a little.  Though with human investments, we often can lose what we have.  Our investments in the kingdom of God always succeed.  To "sow bountifully" in the Kingdom of God is to succeed in life.

Often, God will prompt your heart to GIVE to this person or that.  When you give in such a manner, you KNOW it was the right things to do.  Those are the times when you also receive information (from Him) about how MUCH to give.  And when you give in the will of God, He will give back to you "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over…for the in the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you" (Luke 6:38).

We do not give because some person told us to.  We don’t give merely out of good intentions.  We give because our God has prompted us to do that very thing.   When we sow bountifully in this manner, we will reap bountifully as well.  We do not give to get something, but God (who loves you) GIVES to the one with a generous heart.

Verse 7.  "Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver."

In your heart, Christian, God will place a desire to give.  He will also point out those who need to receive your gift (which may take various forms, like money, a prayer, a hug, a kind word).  In Psalms 37:4, we learn "He will give you the desires of your heart" – He will cause your desires to become His, and when the gift and recipient are revealed in your heart, you MUST give.  To give in such a manner is the doorway to joy, for the giver and for the recipient.

Our first need is to give and our second is to give WILLINGLY.  Jesus said we are to give "expecting nothing in return" (Luke 6:35) and that is the key to successful giving.  Often when we give "grudgingly or under compulsion" (as in this verse), it is because we are worried – we think they might not pay us back.  Just give cheerfully to anyone who is in need and don’t worry about yourself at all (see commentary on verse 8).

Verse 8.  "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;"

The reason you don’t need to worry about yourself in giving (see commentary on verse 7) is because God will take care of you.  When He leads you to give, He will provide the way for you to do it.  This is a principle found throughout Scripture (and one I did not understand for many years).  The first time I encountered it was during our "lean" financial years, in relation to Haggai 1:6, "He who earns wages to put into a bag with holes."  It seemed that no matter how much we earned, it was not enough.  It was like my wallet had a hole in the bottom.  In Haggai, they did not have enough because they were not building the Temple, as God had directed.  In our case, He wanted me to be a person who would give, even when I thought we did not have enough.

If you give as God directs you to give, He will provide for all of your needs and you don’t have to be afraid.  This is seen in Proverbs 11:24, where Solomon teaches us "There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, but it leads to poverty."  When God directs your hand to give, go ahead and do so, and He will abundantly provide for your needs.

Verse 9.  "as it is written, ‘He scattered abroad, He gave to the poor, His righteousness endures forever’."

Paul is quoting Psalm 112:9, from the Septuagint translation – that verse is "he has dispersed abroad, he has given to the poor, his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be exalted with honor."  The Psalm contains a definition of a "good man," by stating that the good person "deals graciously and lends" (Psalm 112:5).  This is not lending and expecting something in return, but simply giving to the one in need.  If they pay you back, fine; if not, praise the Lord.

This is absolutely consistent with Luke 6:35, where Jesus startled his disciples by telling to "lend, expecting nothing in return."   He continued in that verse by promising "your reward will be great."  It may not always be the reward you have anticipated but He WILL take care of you, and as He said, "you will be sons of the Highest" (Luke 6:35), which is the best reward of all.

Verse 10.  "Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness;"

Have you ever wondered where your income is from?  You possibly are like just about everybody else and think it’s because you’re such a hard and clever worker.  Actually, the principle is here in this verse, and if we believe it, our lives will be changed and we will find peace.

Almighty God is the one who supplies the seed to the farmer.  God is the one who places the money into your pay envelope.  If you are an entrepreneur, He gave you the brains and the good circumstance to own that business.  His intention in giving to you, is that you will, in turn, give to those around you.  You are to provide for your family, give a fair wage to your workers and be generous with others, because GOD has provided for you.

Verse 11.  "you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God."

Paul now tells them (in the next verses) of the RESULTS of faithfulness in giving.   Two are mentioned here.  You will be enriched in everything that is truly important in life.  J. Vernon McGee, who said from his long experience, "I have never known anyone who has gone broke giving to the Lord’s work," also said "I don’t think the blessings He gives to you will always be material blessings."  God often gives in ways that are better than money.

The second result of your decision to give, is that you will produce thankfulness in other people.  And this is a special kind of thanks, because we thank the Giver of all good things - God.  So often we thank our doctor, our spouse; some human helper (and it is good to thank them).  But the real Author of the good you have received is God, and you should reasonably thank Him – often.

Verse 12.  "For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God."

Often charitable organizations start within a Godly context and later continue to be charitable but give no credit to God.  True giving is indeed when you help others, but there is an extra part that needs to be acknowledged.  Yes, our giving must supply the needs of those who have less than we do, but also cause many to thank God for what He has done (through us).  "Saints" here ("called out ones") are those who trust in God.

There are those who have given to this ministry.  The Friday Study website did not occur by accident – people have given their time and money to make it happen.  I thank God for them and if you benefit from this ministry, you might want to thank Him, too.  As J. Vernon McGee said about this verse, "when you give, it will cause people to thank God for you.  It is God who will get the praise and the glory."

Verse 13.  "Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,"

James said "faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead" (James 2:17).  Paul knew the same truth, alerting us that we were "created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10).  This is the proof of our faith, that we become obedient to the confession of gospel of Christ (as in this verse) by caring for others.

We reveal who we truly are, partly by the liberality (or lack of it) with which we give the love of God to those He has placed in our lives.  We can give His love to others in a variety of ways - the example here in these verses is money (but that is not the only way to give).  As to money, we are no longer tight with it, but we LONG to share with others in any need.

Verse 14.  "while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you."

In Christ, we become a people who yearn for one another, because of His love in us.   We PRAY for each other, and all this is the grace of God in us.  It is His gift to us, that His love is expressed IN us.  "Grace" as we have seen, can be defined as "unmerited favor" and is shown as we share His love with those around.

I have discovered in Scripture and from His Spirit, that through Adam and then through Noah, we are one people one human race.  When we read any newspaper, we see that something is wrong with us, for we do not ACT like we are one.  Sadly, our hearts are divided, but then we receive Christ and we are made truly one in Him.  With Him, our hearts yearn to express God’s grace in the lives of other people.

Verse 15.  "Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!"

James (4:6) quotes Solomon (Proverbs 3:34), who reveals that the gift of God to mankind is GRACE (again – unmerited favor).  This was made possible through the Gospel (good news) of Christ (2 Corinthians 9:13).  The grace of God has always been extended, but we don’t know what giving really IS, until we are in Christ.  Oh yes, we might give something, but we cannot know what it means to pour ourselves out in the will of God, until we are in Him.

And so we thank Him.  Oh God, what JOY is in Your Name, Your Spirit, Your Son.   How we love You and praise You.  We receive You now, because we see we have not fully known You before.  Not like this.  Let us become a people O God, who give in the grace of God, in His Spirit, because of the Son, in joy and in love.  In Jesus Name.  Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
www.fridaystudy.org
ron@fridaystudy.org

 

2nd Corinthians