2 Corinthians 9
1For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints;
2for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, namely, that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.
3But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, so that, as I was saying, you may be prepared;
4otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we--not to speak of you--will be put to shame by this confidence.
5So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness.
Paul is confident that the Corinthians will follow through on giving to the churches because they had earlier on been very zealous to do this work. In fact, it was their zeal that inspired many of the other churches in the region to start giving themselves. Now these other churches had given, and it was time to take a collection from the Corinthians. Given their earlier desire which even led Paul to have pride in them and to use them as an example to encourage the other churches to give, he was confident that they would indeed give. So Paul sent the three brothers to receive the gift from them, and he wanted them to be prepared so that they and Paul would not be put to shame. The brothers who went ahead of Paul were to make sure the gift was in order and that no covetousness had arisen to take from the gift which the Corinthians had stored up. The Corinthians had made a promise to give generously, and Paul wanted to see the fulfillment of their promise.
6Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.
7Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
Paul lays out a fundamental principle of giving. He has already said giving was to be a regular setting aside of funds for the Lord (1 Corinthians 16:2). Second, it should be generous and sacrificial, but not poverty inducing (2 Corinthians 8:7, 13-14). Third, giving is to be as God leads an individual, so that giving is according to his own desires, from a “want to” mentality rather than a “have to.” Thus giving is not something to be forced upon someone, nor should legalistic standards be imposed. Legalism makes this work of grace an annoyance or compulsion, and this is not right before the Lord. We should want to give, and we should give freely without others watching over us in judgment. God loves a cheerful giver, one who does so out of joy and eagerness, rather than regret, sadness, and sorrow. Giving should be done for the joy of the Lord and out of a desire to serve Him as a means to support the churches around the world as well as our own local church. Giving in Scripture was to one’s own church which then oversaw the giving of gifts to other churches and missionaries. Those who give sparingly will have few rewards, while those who give generously will reap many eternal rewards (Galatians 6:7-8, Luke 6:38). The more we give according to what we are able (2 Corinthians 8:12), the more joy we can experience.
8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;
9as it is written,
"HE SCATTERED ABROAD, HE GAVE TO THE POOR,
HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS ENDURES FOREVER."
10Now 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;
11you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God.
12For the ministry of this service is not only fully supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.
God is faithful in overseeing the giving done in His name and according to His principles. Those who give can trust God to look after their needs and to meet them (Philippians 4:19) such that they will continue to have the means to give to others regularly. When we give, it is not as if we are signing up to be in poverty and destitute. We give to have the chance to have joy as ministers of grace to those in need, and we are able to give God thanks and praise when we are given to in return. This is what Luke refers to in the book of Acts when he speaks of the early church having everything “in common” (Acts 2:44, 4:32). A benefit of fellowship in the early church was that one could rest in the care of the community. But the promise we have here from the Lord is that even if some in the church are unfaithful, God sees and knows His faithful ones, and He promises to take care of them, giving them the needed grace such that they can abound in every good deed. God’s desire for life is one of abundance when it comes to serving Him (1 Corinthians 15:58) because He loves us and desires us to have many rewards in heaven. He will enable this to happen as we trust Him and by faith obey His commands. Paul desires the Corinthians to give and trust God Who gives bread for food and seed for sowing, given that He owns and has made everything. He will be faithful to give them the means to give to others and to be given to, even multiplying their efforts to produce an abundant harvest of righteousness. Giving what we can to God cheerfully leads not to poverty but to God supplying us with even more to give. We don’t give to get rich as if we expect God to give us more to spend on ourselves, but we give so that we can be trusted by God to give more when He gives us more. He enriches us when we trust Him in giving so that we can give in even more liberality and generosity. Giving is not for getting or for making a profit, but it is for the purpose of resting in God’s faithfulness so that we trust in His sufficiency and not our own. When He then provides and gives us more opportunities to give to His kingdom and even in greater quantities, then we will have more and more thanksgiving for Him for letting us be part of His kingdom work. Giving supplies the needs of the saints and gives us a chance to thank and worship God. Giving is God’s idea, and it is a good thing, teaching us humility, generosity, trust, compassion, and community.
13Because of the proof given by this ministry, they will glorify God for your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ and for the liberality of your contribution to them and to all,
14while they also, by prayer on your behalf, yearn for you because of the surpassing grace of God in you.
15Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
The result of the Corinthians' faithfulness in giving will lead to the rest of the churches glorifying God because of their obedience and submission to the principles of living out the gospel of Christ in the world. They will be so thankful to see their needs met through other Christians who care about them even if they don’t personally know them. Such is the love and community of the true church of God, or so it should be. The other churches will pray for the Corinthians, desiring to meet them and enjoy getting to know them, if such is possible while on the earth. At least in heaven, we will meet those whom we have loved and served while on the earth, and what a glorious time that will be. Paul concludes this section by praising God Who thought up the idea of giving because of how it blesses those who give spiritually and because of the fellowship it creates. Giving does so much good for our spiritual lives as we trust God and love others.