January 25, 2016
II Corinthians 9:6-8, 11
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Our Scripture is II Corinthians 9:6 through 8 and 11 – which we will dissect to learn more about Reaping Bountifully:
…He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows
bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he pur-
poses in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a
cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you,
that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abun-
dance for every good work…while you are enriched in everything for
all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.
• II Corinthians 9:6 – “…He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” I learned a Bible study principle some time ago that has helped me understand some difficult passages. It is First the natural, then the spiritual. (See, for instance, the Matthew 13 parables; John 3:3-8). First, the natural example is presented. Once understood, it is applied to the spiritual truth.
Here Paul is speaking about something every farmer and gardener would comprehend – an abundant crop yield starts with planting abundant seed! The opposite is also true – a scant yield may be because of a sparse planting. There are certainly other factors involved – soil conditions (see Matthew 13:3-8 and 18-23), water and sunlight availability (see II Kings 19:26), vermin and disease (see Jonah 4:6, 7), etc. But it starts with the amount of seed planted!
The context of our Scripture is Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthian Christians to give generously to help meet the needs of fellow believers in Jerusalem and Judea (see I Corinthians 16:1-3; II Corinthians 8:4; 9:1). These brothers and sisters were experiencing hardship, including persecution (see John 9:22; Acts 8:1; 12:2-4, James 1:1, 2), and famine (see Acts 11:28). Paul was trying to stimulate support for these needy Judean brethren with these principles for the Corinthian Christians – and all believers – to apply:
* II Corinthians 8:1-3 – “…we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing [to give]….”
If God so leads to generously give, the present circumstances of the giver should not be the determining factor! As the apostle wrote in II Corinthians 5:7, “…we walk by faith, not by sight.” And, as it says in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Paul reminds us to “Set…our mind on things above, not on things of the earth….[For] we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.” (Colossians 3:2; II Corinthians 4:18). Giving should be based on faith!
* But the first point is modified by 8:12 – “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.” I take this to mean, you can only give what God has given you to pass on to others!
* II Corinthians 8:1, 5 – “The churches of Macedonia…first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” All true Christian giving must start here – with giving ourselves to the Lord first!
A boy of ten who came from a poor family was attending a missionary service at the big church in town. The offering to help the missionary work was announced, and the boy sadly realized he had nothing in his pockets to give. As the usher was approaching his pew in the back of the sanctuary, the lad suddenly had an idea. He stepped out into the isle in front of the usher and demanded, “Put the offering plate on the floor!” The man, befuddled by the boy’s request, just stood there. Again the lad loudly demanded, “Put the plate on the floor!” Finally the usher set the plate down, and the boy stepped into it. “I give me!” he announced.
• II Corinthians 9:7 – “So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” Jesus said in Matthew 15:18 and19, “…those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart….For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Not just words, but all actions go through the heart first! The heart is the Hebrew concept of the mind, the inner person.
God wants Christian giving to flow out of a grateful and joyous heart! The other two ways in which a gift can be given are:
* grudgingly – meaning sadness, and translated in the New Testament also as grief, grievous, heaviness and sorrow. (Strong’s Dictionary of the Greek Testament).
* of necessity – meaning by constraint or in distress. It carries the idea that such giving must needs be done even if one does not want to give. (Strong’s).
That kind of giving does not please God – “…for God loves a cheerful giver.” Cheerful means propitious or merry (hilarious), that is, prompt or willing. (Strong’s). So give hilariously!
More in our next blog.