Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
their righteousness endures forever.”
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
We are all familiar with today’s passage, because it is probably the most quoted New Testament passage on giving. It has been used and abused over the years by those who looking to guilt people into giving to their particular cause or ministry. But that was not Paul’s point here at all. Paul’s whole point in writing these words to the Corinthian church and to us was to show us that giving comes out of the change in your heart and in your attitude when you give your life to Jesus. And to better understand that we are going to look at several key verses in this passage in depth.
The first verse we are going to look at is the first verse in this passage (v. 6) which says, “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” Christians can either give generously or sparingly, and God will reward them accordingly. To Paul, giving is not a loss, but a form of saving; it results in great benefits for the giver. Paul is not speaking primarily of the quantity given, but of the quality of our hearts’ desires and motives. The poor widow gave little, but God considered it much because of the proportion she gave and because of her complete dedication.
In a culture obsessed with materialism and convenience, it is always easy to make personal sacrifices. But that which is convenient is not really a sacrifice and probably requires little effort or generosity. God wants his people to show his generosity by gladly giving time and money, particularly so that others can do and receive ministry. The reward will not necessarily be material or financial, and it may not return to us quickly. But God promises that those who give generously-with a good attitude-will in time receive good things in return. To be sure, God does not want us to give just because we will get something in return. True generosity means giving with selfish expectations. It is particularly evident when we give to those who do not have the means to return the favor. God will bless those who bless others. When he asks us to believe, trust and follow His plan, he will prove his promises and give us a plentiful harvest for the seeds of generosity we have planted.
The next two verse that we are going to look at are verse 7 and 8 which say, “Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” The word here translated “cheerful” (Greek hilaros) does not refer to loud and uncontrolled expressions of leaping and laughter. Rather it means we get to experience an overwhelming sense of inner joy, gladness and fulfillment that goes along with sincere and generous giving.
And the very next verse tells us that believers who give what they can to help those in need will find that God graciously provides for their own needs-and even more-so that they can continue to show generosity and good works. Grace means God’s unearned, undeserved favor, love, help and enablement. As we show love to others, helping and enabling them in productive ways, God will show a special love to us, helping and enabling us to do even more.
Now we are going to skip down to verse 11 which says, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” Paul here is telling us that in order for us to express true generosity outwardly, our hearts must become rich in true love and compassion for others. We should always pray and ask God to give us this kind of heart for others. Giving of ourselves and our possessions results in (1) supplying the needs of those who are lacking in some way, (2) praise and thanksgiving to God and (3) love from those who receive our help.
And now we come to the very last verse of today’s passage where Paul writes these words, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” Paul here is telling us that God lovingly gave his own Son, Jesus, who selflessly gave himself for us. And that all true Christian giving is simply a response of gratitude to God for this incomparable gift.