Will You Help with Sowing and Reaping?
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Delivered By
Pastor Ed Dinkins
Delivered On
April 16, 2016
Central Passage
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Third Sunday Service

Commentary - Data Source: " The Results of Generous Giving"

     "The principle is clear: we harvest in proportion to our planting--or, to use a contemporary maxim, "we get as good as we give." This applies as well to charitable giving--so much so that Paul takes eight verses to spell this out (9:8-15). But before doing so, in verse 7 he offers the Corinthians three guidelines for giving beyond what he has already listed in 8:11-15.

     First, giving is to be an individual matter that is settled in the privacy of one's own heart. Each, Paul says,should give what he has decided in his heart to give. Each is placed first for emphasis. "How much?" is a question that each person must answer for herself. And it is never to be determined by how much "the Joneses" are contributing.

     Second, giving requires resolve. The text reads what he has decided (literally, "as each has purposed"). The verb proaireomai, found only here in the New Testament, means "to choose deliberately" or "to make up one's own mind about something." It is a well-known fact that telethons that play on people's emotions to solicit contributions often end up with donors who pledge impulsively but not deliberately enough to follow through on their pledge. Paul says that giving is to be based on a calculated decision. It is not a matter to be settled lightly or impulsively.

     Third, giving is to be a private, not a public, decision. It is to be decided in the heart. It is an unfortunate reality that some Christians will give only if there is some form of public acclaim or recognition involved. Endowed chairs, scholarship funds and building projects are rarely underoritten anonymously. Usually much pomp and circumstance is attached to these donations, with the contributor's name(s) prominently displayed and the donation itself frequently praised and honored publicly. The real reason to give is because one cannot help but give--or, as William Barclay puts it, because the "need wakens a desire that cannot be stilled" (1954:233). This desire is in fact to give the way God gave; it was because he so loved the world that he gave his only Son.

     Paul identifies four beneficiaries of charitable giving in verses 8-14: the giver (vv. 8-11), the recipients (v. 12), God (vv. 11-12) and the church (vv. 13-14). In the first place, the giver benefits. God's response to generosity is to make all grace abound to the giver. The idea of grace abounding is a familiar one in these chapters. The verb "to abound" (perisseuo) is found six times. The noun grace (charis) is no stranger either, appearing ten times in all. Here it refers to the giver's unmerited favor from God.

     But what form does God's favor take? Is Paul thinking of spiritual benefits or material blessings? The focus in the context is clearly on material blessings. Yet Paul could well be thinking of all the benefits we receive from God. For inherent in the term grace is the idea that whatever we possess, be it physical or spiritual, we possess by reason of God's goodwill toward us, not because of personal merit.

     We also possess it by reason of God's power. God is able is perhaps better rendered "God is powerful" (dynatei ho theos; v. 8). It is God Almighty who provides the means to be generous. This same thought is found in proverbial form in the teaching of Jesus: "Freely you have received, freely give" (Mt 10:8). The order here is important. It is only as we have freely received that we can, in turn, freely give."

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