Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth a cheerful giver. — 2 Corinthians 9:7
About fifty years ago, when I was a boy, our pastor used the words of today’s focus verse as he asked us to save our pennies and nickels over the coming winter months. The purpose was to make donations to help with the construction of a church building at another location. At that time, there was not much money to draw from in our little fishing settlement. Most errands done for someone did not bring monetary payments. Yet, there were times we were given a nickel, and at other times we received the few pennies left over from a purchase at the store.
With money so scarce, it was a sacrifice to throw those coins into the empty jam jar we set up at our house for our gifts. But there were incentives. It was not uncommon to hear another boy or girl say how much he or she had saved. This, in turn, would provoke the rest of us to not spend any of our earned coins for candy or a chocolate bar, but to put it into the savings jar.
It was sometime in the spring when our pastor announced that our savings could be taken to the parsonage, where they would be receipted and forwarded on to help another congregation with its church construction. Even though the amount given by each child was not much, it was exciting to know that we had done it for the Lord’s work. After all, it represented most of our receivables for a number of months! It was rewarding to know that we were a part of such a worthy cause.
What encouraged us to give was that we were taught that it would please the Lord, and I am thankful for that early training. In the years since, I have learned other lessons about Biblical giving.
Perhaps God will allow you an opportunity for giving today. If you do give, you will be blessed and so will those who receive the gift.
In the first five verses of chapter 9, Paul expressed his confidence in the generosity of the church in Corinth. They had made a commitment to help the Jerusalem Christians financially, and Paul was tactfully prodding them to follow through. He had told others of their generosity, and he did not want them to embarrass him or themselves by not fulfilling their commitment. He was sending men to help expedite the preparation of the gift.
In verses 6-15, Paul expounded on the blessings of benevolence. He illustrated generous giving by comparing it to sowing seeds. The farmer who puts a few seeds into the ground will have a small harvest, but one who plants liberally will have a bountiful harvest. The giving was to be done cheerfully, not because the giver felt obligated. A specific amount was not stated, for Paul wanted these people to give the amount God laid upon their hearts. He was not speaking here of tithes, for that ten percent belongs to God. Rather, he was exhorting them to make a generous offering for a specific need.
Paul knew that if the Corinthian Christians honored God with their giving, He would take care of their life necessities. Grace was the key word — God was able to make all grace abound so that His people would have sufficient and would consider what they had as enough for their needs. Paul realized that if these people denied themselves in order to give sacrificially and generously to others, God would bless them.
In addition to God’s blessing, Paul foresaw that this particular gift would strengthen the bonds between the Jewish believers in Jerusalem and the Gentile believers in Corinth. This financial gift would be evidence that their hearts had been genuinely changed by the Lord. The Christians in Jerusalem would express their appreciation by praying for those in Corinth.
“Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift” was an outburst of Paul’s gratitude to God, who gave the greatest gift of all when He gave His Son.
The Christians in Corinth did fulfill their promise, because in Romans 15:26, Paul said, “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem.” Corinth was a city of Achaia.
Following is an illustration of the cycle that Paul was describing:
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
III. The arrangement of a contribution for the saints
C. The principles to heed (9:1-15)
1. A call to readiness (9:1-5)
2. A call to liberality (9:6-15)
Because God loves “a cheerful giver,” let us determine to express our gratitude to Him by willingly giving where He allows us opportunity.