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Sowing Generously February 3, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on 2 Corinthians 9:6-15.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Corinthians that anyone who gives freely will gain more than they give, while anyone who gives reluctantly will be impoverished. Yet he does not want them to give out of either sorrow or compulsion of circumstances – he wants them to give joyfully, as God will bless them in that event. God has the power to increase their earthly possessions so that in everything they will be sustained, having enough to continue giving. He then quotes from Psalm 112:9 to reinforce the point that anyone who is generous to the poor will always be able to give generously.

Paul notes that as God supplies seed to the farmer to yield bread for consumption, He will abundantly supply the Corinthians with wealth so that they can give generously; He will increase their ability to give generously. In fact, God will make them abundantly rich so that they can continue giving generously; moreover, thanksgiving to God will flow from Paul’s ministry to their poor brothers in Jerusalem.

The ministry that the Corinthians offer via their collection does not merely compensate the needs of their poor brothers in Jerusalem – it produces abundant good and thanksgiving to God. By rendering a service to their poor brothers in Jerusalem, men will glorify God for their display of

  • obedience to their confession as Christians
  • consciousness of their communion with their poor brothers in Jerusalem – and with all Christians in general.

The generosity that God will allow them to display will also cause their poor brothers in Jerusalem to pray for them. Paul concludes by bursting out in praise to God for the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Thoughts: In this passage, we see that God enables those who give generously to continue their giving ways. Hodge offers some pointed thoughts on this in his commentary on verse 8:

Here it clearly refers to earthly good; it means the kind of good or favor that enables those who receive it to give abundantly. The idea, therefore, obviously is, ‘God is able to increase your wealth.’

Hodge goes on to note in his commentary on verse 9 that this is meant to be a general principle – and not meant to be applied in all situations. This got me thinking about the generosity that Paul exhorted the Corinthians to display; it is apparent that he knew that they possessed the gift of generosity. Now do all Christians possess the gift of generosity? If not, does this passage apply to all believers? I get the sense that I do not possess this gift, yet I wonder if that is due to 1) my genuine lack of this gift or 2) my sinful nature hindering me from giving as much as God wants me to give.

Verse 15 serves as a rather surprising – yet appropriate – conclusion to this passage on generosity. Hodge offers some enlightening thoughts:

It is his habit also to introduce ejaculations of adoration or thanksgiving into the midst or at the close of his teachings or exhortations (Romans 1:25; 9:5; 1 Corinthians 15:57; 1 Timothy 1:17). The passage, therefore, ought to stand, as we do not doubt the vast majority of the readers of the Bible understand it, as an outburst of gratitude to God for the gift of his Son.

It is clear that Paul was so full of the Holy Spirit that one can find these occasional outbursts of praise to God in his letters. This verse reminds me of his doxology in Romans 11:33-36, which does flow naturally from his comforting point that all Israel will be saved. Indeed, I am glad to say that I know several believers who are so full of the Holy Spirit that they, like Paul, will praise God on the most (apparently) random occasions. I wonder if praising God on (apparently) random occasions corresponds to a gift that all believers possess – possibly to varying degrees.

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