Text: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Main Point: God is the giver of daily joyful grace.
“What do you have that you did not receive?” What gifts do you have that are not gifts of God’s grace? What are you enjoying right now? Are you ready to claim that thing as a right you have earned? If God took it away would you curse God and charge him with wrong? If God commanded you to give it away would you be afraid you couldn’t be happy?
1 Corinthians 4:7, “What do you have that you did not receive? If then you received it, why do you boast as if you did not receive it?” Everything good you own, everything good in your life, and everything good that you are is a product of God’s free grace in your life. Everything is grace. We deserve nothing good. Our hard work deserves no reward. Your heavenly Father wants you to consider all that you are and all that you are doing so that you can be a cheerful giver. God’s grace is sustaining us in deep and profound ways. Let’s explore these re-directing truths in 2 Corinthians 9.
Read 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
I. Farming helps us understand giving
Let me state the obvious, I am not a farmer. When I was chasing Angela in college, I spent a summer in College Station and ended up working on a farm for rent. The first ten minutes on the tractor I was singing, “I’m just a country boy, country boy at heart.” Eight hours later with my kidneys screaming from all the bouncing around I was not quite as enthusiastic. Farming, like the Great Commission, is work. Leading your family is hard work. Evangelizing your neighbors is hard work. Making disciples through one-on-one relationships, AWANA, Sunday School, and care group is hard work. Here is where farming helps us understand giving
- Your harvest is partially based on your planting
Look at verse 6, “The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” For us city folk, sowing is planting the seed and reaping is picking the fruit. When it comes to plants there is a built-in principle of multiplication. One tomato seed generally produces more than one tomato. Put one grain of wheat in the ground and you will put a handful of wheat in the barn. Let’s multiply that further still. If instead of putting one grain of wheat in the ground, you sow an entire field with seeds; sow handful after handful of seed and you will reap baskets and baskets of grain. You sow a little, you will reap little. Sow a great deal, and you will reap a great deal. The principle of multiplication is encouraging. There is a great harvest out there for us.
Now, I’m affirming that our harvest is partially based on our planting because as any farmer knows there are variables that effect the harvest. The temperature, the rain, the sun, and bugs all play a part. You can plant the best seed the best way in the best soil and get terrible results. Why? God gives the growth. So, we work hard, but we put our trust in God and not in our works.
Before the Apostle Paul goes deep into the motive for giving, we need to clarify the simple message.
- What you get out of the church is relative to what you put into the church
Jump ahead to verses 12-14 (read 2 Corinthians 9:12-14).
The Corinthian church will sow bountifully into the Jerusalem church and the result will be overflowing thanksgivings to God. Those in Jerusalem will embrace the help offered by those in Corinth and this ministry will show the greatness of God. Look at Jews and Gentiles embracing one another as brothers and sisters, entering into one another’s joy and sorrow. Look at those people. They legitimately care for each other. Those people believe the gospel.
God gives to the Corinthian church, the Corinthian church gives to the Jerusalem church, and the Jerusalem church gives thanks to God and prays for the Corinthian church. Do you see the mutuality between the members? The gospel has changed them. Do you see how God is behind every aspect of what is going on? Grace is given to one so she can give. Grace is given to another so she can receive with thanksgiving and not resentment. Giving and receiving lead to prayer asking God to continue blessing the Corinthians. This is coming. Will you be a part of the harvest? Sow a little blessing then reap a little blessing. Sow a big blessing and reap a big blessing.
When God brings you into the church, he brings you into this family of mutual care. And God cares for each of us by gifting all of us. God stands behind every gift. God receives every thank-you. So, the person who recognizes God as the constant giver is the person who is able to invest in others and enjoy the harvest.
Here I need to ask you to consider your attitude toward the church. Are you going out to work or are you sitting around waiting on someone else to bring in the harvest? How is your sowing? Are you generous and joyful as you give yourself to your brothers and sisters? The gospel of God’s sufficient grace produces Christians who sow the gospel through evangelism and discipleship. The gospel of God’s abundant grace produces Christians who sow strength into the body through encouragement and hospitality.
According to 2 Corinthians 8&9, if you are holding back it is because you don’t appreciate the fullness of God’s grace. What we need to explore now is the reason you are holding back is because you don’t yet recognize who God is and what God is doing.
II. Biblical principles for giving
Look at 2 Corinthians 9:7, “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” Here’s our first principle
- God loves a cheerful giver (7)
The amount of the gift is not the issue. When it comes to a God-glorifying gift, the fact that God loves a cheerful giver underscores the truth that the amount is not the deciding factor. Jesus tells us that the widow’s two tiny pennies are worth so much more than the Pharisee’s bag of gold coins (Mk 12:44). The Pharisees gave for show. The Pharisees gave to keep up their reputation for doing the right thing. The widow gave because the televangelist told her if she gave her last two pennies God will give her thousands of dollars. Make Jesus your choice and you’ll drive a Rolls Royce; that was her motive. No it wasn’t! The cheerful giver gives because she is a recipient of God’s grace. The cheerful giver is joyfully aware of God’s presence and care. Reconciled to God through Christ, daily sustained by God through Christ, the widow is able to give out of the abundance of her faith.
The cheerful giver is not an investor. The cheerful giver is not giving to God in order to get from God. The cheerful giver is daily sustained by God’s grace. It is the experience of God’s grace that makes us cheerful givers. In order to be a cheerful giver we must daily enjoy God’s sustaining presence.
So, give. You must give. But check your motives for giving. Are you giving to God in order to get from God? Are you drumming the offering plate so that you don’t have to go out and drum up business? Are you giving because you have to? Are you giving because you feel guilty if you don’t? These are all terrible reasons to give. We give because we are joyful recipients of God’s grace. God’s grace is his forgiving, sustaining, comforting, empowering, and guiding grace. Receiving God’s grace makes us safe and joyful. Receiving God’s grace makes us cheerful givers. So, give joyfully knowing this
- God will continually give you what you need (8)
Look with me at verse 8, “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that have all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” This is our memory verse for this week, 2 Corinthians 8:9.
We are tempted to say, “I can’t give.” We are tempted to say, “I can’t keep giving.” That applies to evangelism, discipleship, fighting temptation, being married, and providing for others. “I can’t do it” is actually a statement of faith, “God can’t do it.”
What do you do in those dark times when you want to give up? One thing you can do is look at the Macedonians. Remember them from 2 Corinthians 8:2? In a severe test of affliction, crushed by poverty, they were joyful and generous. Humanly speaking, the Macedonians did not have the ability to sow generously. Having read that, you have two options. You can say, “the Bible and it’s stories are a myth; lies made up to gain power over people.” Or, you can say, “God is able to make all grace abound to me, like he did to the Macedonians, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, I can abound in every good work.” It boils down to if you believe the bible. Do you have faith?
Walking through the disappointments of life with God produces contentment. Reading, praying, and believing the Word produces an awareness of God’s sufficiency in our poverty so that we trust God for the resources to keep going.
Have you learned the secret of contentment? Have you been discipled so you know how to evangelize, do ministry, fight temptation, do marriage, and provide for others because of Jesus who gives you strength (Philippians 4:13)?
Your strength, your experience, your wisdom, and your bank account are insufficient for all things at all times. God’s grace alone is sufficient to sustain you in all things. Verse 9 is proof of God’s provision, “As it is written, ‘He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’” Here’s our next principle
Psalm 111 sounds one note loudly and clearly, “God is righteous and his righteousness endures forever.” This forever-righteous God provides for all your needs. God leads his people. God feeds his people. God redeems his people. God is the foundation of all that we are. Psalm 112, which is quoted in 2 Corinthians 9:9, describes the blessed man who fears the Lord and greatly delights in his commandments.
The righteous man of Psalm 112 is reconciled to the righteous God of Psalm 111. The righteous man is reconciled to God, redeemed by God, led by God, and daily sustained by God. God enables him to give generously and cheerfully. In fact, his righteousness endures forever. The righteous man continues performing righteous deeds because God is the daily fountain of his righteousness.
This righteous man does not have a superior work ethic. This righteous man did not capitalize on the opportunities. This righteous man is not a self-made man who in turn gives a small portion of what he has earned. No, this righteous man is daily aware of God’s sustaining grace. All that he has is given by God. Aware of grace, enabled by grace, the righteous man gives.
Now, let’s clarify that we are talking about so much more than money.
- We are talking about the Great Commission (10)
The Holy Spirit quoted Psalm 112 in verse 9. Now the Spirit quotes Isaiah 55:10 in verse 10. Look at what God says in verse 10, “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.” Yes, our seed for sowing is money but it is also the Word of God.
Isaiah 55:10 says, “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”
God sends water to provide for your physical needs. God sends the Word to provide for your spiritual needs. There is no part of your life outside of God’s concern. In 2 Corinthians 9 Paul is talking about the money that is needed to fund the mission. But his end wasn’t the money. Paul’s end was the mission. He wants men and women to experience reconciliation with God through Christ. This is the inexpressible gift; eternal life through faith in Christ Jesus. And Paul knows that God cares about your physical and spiritual wellbeing. Paul’s ministry included the Word and good works.
We live in a day when the evangelical church is being torn along the lines of the social gospel. One person says all that matters is doing good works and alleviating poverty. This side has lost the gospel. Another person claims all that matters is preaching the Word and saving souls. That side has lost sight of the God who counts our hairs and provides our daily bread. Gospel ministry brings all of life under a clear and joyful submission to Christ for righteousness. Gospel ministry makes much of the person and work of Christ to reconcile us to God so that we become a means of helping others. To lose care for the poor is a tragedy. To lose the gospel is an eternal tragedy.
The Great Commission calls for wholistic ministry meeting physical and spiritual needs. We must give priority to spiritual needs because our sins make a separation between us and the God who provides for us. We have found Jesus to be spot on, “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4) We are preeminently a people of the Word who are devoted to good works (Titus 2:14). We know this to be true
- God gives to you so that others will give thanks to God (11)
Look with me at 2 Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
Looking at verse 11, why has God been generous to you? God has been generous to you so that you will be generous to others so that others will give thanks to God for his generosity. God gives to you. You give to others. Others give thanks to God. One of the ways you know you are doing what God has gifted you to do is the people you are serving give thanks to God.
Verse 11 repeats the promise of supply. God will enrich you. The Corinthians demonstrate this enrichment points to money. The Macedonians demonstrate this enrichment points to faith and joy. Verse 11 is about more than money. You will be enriched in every way. One take away from this verse is the reminder that we should be asking God for our daily bread. Father, give us what we need to do what you want us to do. Enrich us with money, strength, wisdom, encouragement, faith, repentance, and compassion.
Another take away from this verse is that God doesn’t want you to horde what he has given you precisely because he gifted you to use it. Scott Hafemann says it well, “The key to generosity is not caring less about what we have in this world, but caring more about God’s purposes in granting to us his gifts.” So, instead of asking Marie Kondo’s question, “Does this spark joy?” We need to be asking a biblical question, “Why did God give me this?” The answer to why God gave it is, “to produce in others thanksgiving to God.”
So, when your kids are fighting over something do not ask, “who had it first?” Instead, you can ask, “Whose toy is that? To whom does it belong?” The answer we want to teach is “That toy belongs to God. All things belong to God.” Then press further, “Why did God give you that toy?” The answer we want to teach is “God gives to us so that we can produce thanksgiving in others.” Parents, we must teach the Christian worldview of possessions and we must pray with our children in those moments for God’s help to be cheerful givers.
Take stock of your work, your health, your family, and your ministry. What do you have that does not belong to God? Where is God producing thanksgiving? And let’s not shrink back from hard things that don’t produce thanksgiving overnight. Correcting, rebuking, and disciplining generally don’t produce immediate joy but in the end, there is a harvest of righteousness coming.
As we look at who we are and what God is calling us to do, we
III. Thank God!
- Thank God for his inexpressible gift (15)
Paul emphasizes the abundance of God’s grace in 2 Corinthians. In chapter 3 the new covenant has a glory that surpasses the old covenant. In chapter 4 we understand that the sufferings of today are preparing for us an eternal weight of glory that is beyond all comparison. We are meant to stop all the doing and serving and giving so that we can appreciate all that God is for us. Thank God for his inexpressible gift!
You have been given a gift that cannot be adequately described with words. There are not enough words and there are no sufficient words to explain the gift of God. What is this gift?
In John 4:10 the gift of God is a fountain of thirst-quenching water. In Acts 2:38 and 10:48 the gift of God is the Holy Spirit. In Romans 5:17 the gift is righteousness. In Romans 6:23 the gift of God is eternal life. In Ephesians 3:7 the gift is grace. In Hebrews 6:4 the heavenly gift is salvation.
Combining all of these we see that the inexpressible gift is life with God. Life with God is made possible through grace. We can’t earn life with God and we do not deserve life with God. Life with God is given to us freely because of Christ. This life is made possible because we have been given the righteousness of Christ. This life continues in the power of the Holy Spirit. Everyday we find God more than sufficient to quench our thirst for acceptance and love and meaning. Everyday we find God providing for our needs. Can you believe you are the recipient of this inexpressible gift? Once we were his enemies, now we are his beloved children. We were empty handed broken vessels. Now we are redeemed and filled to overflowing. Out of the fullness of God’s grace we are sent out to be a blessing to others. We give thanks because of the inexpressible gift of grace that brings us to God and sends us out into the world. Let’s give God praise!