Today we will be considering the final 8 verses of 2 Cor 9 (8-15). Before we get there, I’d like to review the two most power-packed verses in the chapters we’ve been studying (2 Cor 8-9): 2 Cor 8:9 and 2 Cor 9:7…
2 Cor 8:9 is the cornerstone, the basis, for any theology of stewardship or generosity – identifying Jesus Christ as the most generous life ever lived…
As Christians we face countless enemies to the welfare of our souls, be it pride, lust, bitterness, or envy. But few are as powerful and relentless as greed. Greed has been deified in our American culture…
What is the most effective counter-attack to this insidious force of greed? 2 Cor 8:9 is the key, the cornerstone – indeed the whole foundation – that holds the power to liberate our hearts from the grip of greed and release in us, and through us, the joy of generous giving:
2 Cor 8:9: For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. (This is a concise and powerful theological statement that summarizes the gospel – a Christology.)
No one ever started so rich and became as poor as the Lord Jesus Christ. And no one ever started out so poor and have become so rich as those who have placed their faith and trust in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
Here is how Paul states it in Gal 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
What Paul is saying in 2 Cor 8:9 and in Gal 2:20 (and all throughout his writings, which make up much of the NT, is that IN CHRIST, we have access to an alternative life force: “and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.”
Martin Luther spoke of a “great exchange,” which refers to the way Christ’s sinless life and sacrificial death works to benefit the sinners that are united to him by faith: our sin is charged to Jesus and Jesus’ righteousness is credited to us. In essence it’s a transaction, an exchange: our sin for his righteousness.
2 Cor 9:7… “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”
In v.7 we encounter a concise pattern for generous stewardship. There are six parameters:
- Universal (“Each one must do…”)
- Personal (“just as he has purposed in his heart”). (Many commentators say that if Paul had believed that we should begin our giving with a tithe, he would have reiterated that here…)
- Choice/Resolve (“as he has purposed“; the verb means: to choose or to make up your own mind about something.) In the end only you and God will know if you’re sowing sparingly or bountifully.
- “Not Grudgingly,” or, without regret. Lit., “not out of sorrow.”
- “Not Under Compulsion.“ No force – psychological or otherwise; no manipulation, no moralism.
- Cheerful. The Greek word translated “cheerful” is hilaron, from which we get out English word “hilarious.” This means that we find our joy, our delight, our pleasure in the generosity of Jesus Christ and we give out of a worshipful, joyful heart – as we remember what Jesus Christ has done.
There are two primary points for today:
- Vs. 8-12 The Promise of Abundance
- Vs. 13-15 The Results of Christian Stewardship
Let’s look at them individually…
1. 9:8-12: The promise to supply abundantly those who give generously.
Notice Paul’s “string of universals” in v. 8 – “God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed.”
Do you see them? All, always, all, everything, and every. That is a staggering promise for us as believers — and for your family, and for us as a church—simply staggering.
It’s quite similar to the promise of Jesus in Matthew 6:33: “Seek first the kingdom of God and [the gift of] his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
Now, notice the word righteousness in vs. 9 and 10: “His righteousness abides forever,” and then in v.10 Paul speaks of “the harvest of your righteousness.” This is speaking of the great exchange: Christ’s righteousness becomes ours…
Notice also in v.10 that God does not stop with merely“multiplying our seed” (this is where the Prosperity Gospel folks fall short); but God will “multiply your seed for sowing” (9:10). The goal is not to merely multiply our own resources, but to sow that we might be generous beyond ourselves. We do not “give to get.” We give to get, to give again – and again, and again, and again…
In v.11 we see another use of more ‘universals’…”You will be enriched in everything (why?) “for all liberality producing thanksgiving to God“ (9:11). And not just our own thanksgiving, but the thanksgiving (to God) of those who are the recipients of our exchanged generosity.
2. 9:13-15: The results of generous Christian giving.
In v.13a – Our generosity brings glory (honor, worship, and praise) to God.
In v.13b – Our generosity functions as evidence, or proof, of the authenticity of our faith. “They [the recipients] will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ – and your liberality…”
In v.14 we see our generosity serves to increase and intensify affection and fellowship among Christians – and sparks gratitude for the grace of God. (There are 39 verses in chapters 8-9. The word grace is used 10 times…)
In v. 15. “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” We close our series by asking, “What is God’s ‘indescribable gift’?
Is it “the surpassing grace of God” in the Corinthians, mentioned in v. 14 (cf. 8:1)? Or is it God’s gracious gift of Jesus (8:9) who, though rich, impoverished himself to make us rich? Which is it?
The answer is… both! Jesus Christ is THE Divine Gift which inspires ALL gifts.
And now, as we wind down our study of these two chapters in 2 Corinthians, a brief summary of the 10 principles of Christian stewardship is in order:
- Generosity is a work of Gods grace (2 Cor 8:1-6)
- Generosity is both a work of God’s grace and a choice (2 Cor 8:7)
- Generosity points us to the sacrifice of Christ (2 Cor 8:8-9)
- Generosity is measured proportionally (2 Cor 8:10-12)
- Generosity enables a holy equality (2 Cor 8:13-15)
- Generosity necessitates godly stewardship (2 Cor 8:16-24)
- Generosity begets generosity (2 Cor 9:1-5)
- Generosity is about sowing and reaping (2 Cor 9:6-12)
- Generosity is an evidence that someone is an active, intentional follower of Christ (2 Cor 9:13-14)
- Generosity promotes the worship of Jesus as God (2 Cor 9:15)
If we were to break down the population of the world into only 100 people, it would play out like this:
- There would be 51 women and 49 men.
- 70 people would be of a faith other than Christianity.
- There would be 70 people of color; 30 would be white.
- 80 would live in substandard housing (i.e. no running water or electricity, etc.)
- 50 would be malnourished, living off of perhaps one small meal a day.
- 70 would be illiterate and unable to read.
- Fewer than 6 would live in the U.S., but those 6 would possess half the world’s wealth. (Even with the financial challenges that we face today, it doesn’t seem so bad when we consider there are approximately 6.6 billion people in the world today and close to half of that (over 3 billion) live on less than $2 a day!
To personalize this, go to http://www.globalrichlist.com/
I did and found out that, according to our household income, Linda and I are in the top .66% of the richest people in the world.
The website noted that if we donated just one hour’s salary…
We could buy:
- 25 fruit trees for farmers in Honduras to grow and sell fruit at their local market, and…
- A First Aid kit for a village in Haiti.
$73 could purchase a new mobile health clinic to care for AIDS orphans in Uganda.
$2400 could purchase schooling for an entire generation of school children in an Angolan village.
 Barnett: 439.