II Corinthians 9

 

 

Encouragement to the Corinthians to fulfill their promises by giving speedily (vs. 1-5),

amply (v. 6), cheerfully (v. 7), and thereby earn God’s blessing (vs. 8-11) in a cause

fruitful of blessed consequence (vs. 12-14). He concludes the subject with a heartfelt

thanksgiving

(v. 15).

 

1 “For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for

me to write to you:”  For.   This word shows that he is continuing the same

subject, and therefore excludes the supposition that this chapter is a separate letter

or fragment. No doubt, however, the express mention of the collection

after he has been practically writing about it through the whole of the last

chapter looks as if he had been interrupted, or had left off dictating at the

end of the last verse. Such breaks must often and necessarily have occurred

in the dictation of the Epistles, and doubtless help to account for some of

their phenomena. Perhaps, on re-perusing the last paragraphs before

resuming the subject he observed that, after all, he had not directly

mentioned the contribution, and therefore explains that he thought it

superfluous to do so. To the saints, (the poor Christians at Jerusalem

ch. 8:4) Superfluous. Because the subject had been already fully brought

to their notice by himself and by Titus.

 

2 “For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them

of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked

very many.”  I boast of you; literally, I am boasting. The tense shows that Paul is

writing from Macedonia, probably from Philippi (ch. 8:24).  Achaia  (see ch. 1:1)

Was ready a year ago; has been prepared since last year)  Your zeal hath provoked

very many; literally, zeal from you hath stimulated the majority. “Zeal from you”

means zeal which emanated from the Corinthians and aroused emulation in

others.  Your example has encouraged others to do the same.  The apostle knew

human life and the circumstances that influence it, and he apprehended that, had

the members of the Corinthian Church been called upon suddenly, without any

previous advice, to complete the beneficent work into which they had entered so

readily some twelve months before, they might not be able on a sudden either to do

justice to their own reputation or to justify the high praise he had given them. The

reputation of Christian men should always be sacredly respected. Reputation is social

power; deprive a man of this, and he is powerless in society; deprive a Church of this,

 and you leave it as infirm as a merchant without credit.  Respect for the reputation of

good men is the duty of all. No man can deprive me of my character, but he may of my

reputation, and without my reputation my social influence is nil.  (I have heard it takes

a lifetime to gain a reputation, but only a moment to lose it! CY – 2010)

 

                                    “The purest treasure mortal times afford

                                    Is spotless reputation; that away,

                                    Men are but gilded loam or painted clay.”

(Shakespeare.)

 

 

The Contagion of Zeal (v. 2)

 

The interest which Christians living in distant lands learned, under apostolic

guidance and by the spiritual tuition of the indwelling love of Christ, to

take in one another’s welfare, was an evidence of the introduction into

humanity of a new moral power, a principle of universal love and

brotherhood. It is very instructive to see the congregations of Macedonia

and of Corinth rivaling one another in the benevolent enterprise of

relieving the wants of the mother Church at Jerusalem. Paul evidently

encourages this beneficial emulation.

 

  • ZEAL IN CHRISTIAN BENEVOLENCE IS IN ITSELF GOOD. The

languid and unemotional, the cold and calculating, however they may pride

themselves upon their justice and reasonableness, are not the people who

do the good, the benevolent work of the world. It is good to be zealously

affected in a good cause.  (Galatians 4:18)

 

  • THE CONTAGIOUSNESS OF ZEAL IS FOUNDED UPON THE

SOCIAL NATURE OF MAN. We are members one of another, and it is

not desirable, it is not possible, for any person, for any community, to be

indifferent to the welfare of others. And the conduct of each has some

influence upon the conduct of others. It is not easy to be zealous when all

around are unconcerned and inactive, whilst, on the other hand, the

spectacle of zealous devotion and self-denial is stimulating and

encouraging.

 

  • THIS EMULATION MAY BE CARRIED TO A PREJUDICIAL

EXTENT. It cannot but be acknowledged that emulation may lead to

ostentation. Who can question that the motive of some givers to charitable

and religious institutions is impure? One wishes to excel another, for the

pleasure of triumphing over him, or of cutting a more important figure in

the eyes of his fellow men. And thus the true motive is lost sight or, and a

moral injury is wrought.

 

  • YET IT IS WELL TO FEEL THE FORCE OF A GOOD EXAMPLE

AS A PRACTICAL MOTIVE TO ZEALOUS SERVICE. We may learn

from the case of others what may be done where there is consecration, self-

denial, and prayerful effort. Our apathy may be rebuked, our flagging

benevolence revived. It is when the coals are not only kindled, but put

together, that the fire burns clear and bright, and gives forth its genial

warmth.

 

 

 

The Contagion of Charity (v. 2)

 

  • AN INDISPUTABLE FACT. Man is imitative, even in generosity.

Example is often potent when appeal falls flat. Many do not see that they

can afford to give until others in similar circumstances demonstrate the

possibility. Men do not like to be outdone in good works; a friend’s

beneficence is a spur to our own.

 

  • A SUGGESTIVE FACT. When we give we often think only of the

direct good which our contribution will effect, but much other good may

follow. Our charity may be stimulative. This should lead us:

 

ü      To give promptly. Delayed gift may be in time for the special object, but

may be too late to induce others to give in time. Our charity must have

time to work; some people take hints slowly. Bis dat, qui cito dat (he

gives twice who gives promptly), is true in more ways than one.

 

ü      To give liberally. We may curtail the charity of others. On the other

hand, a liberal gift may draw forth liberal responses.

 

ü      To give joyfully. If we give with evident gladness, others may desire to

share our happiness. Joyful giving is more contagious than any other,

since all men naturally crave for joy.

 

ü      To give to suitable objects only. We may misdirect the charity of others.

There is not a little responsibility attaching to benevolence. Some seem

to think that, if they give, it is little matter how or to what they give.

 

  • A COMFORTING FACT. The truly liberal are often distressed

because they can give so little. But small gifts may have large issues. The

small rudder directs the great ship. The little weight often turns the scale.

Our gift, of little value, may call forth large help from those wealthier than

ourselves. This is likely if men see that, though we give little, we give as

much as we can.  (Remember the Widow’s Mites – Mark 12:41-44)

 

  • A USEFUL FACT. To be made use of according to the example set

by Paul. A legitimate instrument for moving sluggish natures. Whilst we

may be silent respecting our own charity, we may often profitably speak of

the charity of others.

 

3 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this

behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready”  But. Though it is needless to write to you

about this collection, I sent the brethren to make sure that all I had said about you

might be justified by reality. In this behalf; i.e. about this matter (compare ch. 3:10),

or, as we might express it, “in this direction.”

 

4 “Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared,

we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.”

They of Macedonia; rather, Macedonians; i.e. any friends from Macedonia

(Acts 20:4). Shall Achaians have to blush before Macedonians? We, that we

say not ye. Nothing can exceed the delicacy of this touch. Paul asks them

to be ready with their contributions for his sake, not for their own; that he may not

have to blush for his generous words respecting them, whereas really the discredit

would be simply theirs.  Confident boasting; rather, confidence. The reading

“of boasting” is not genuine here. For the word ὑποστάσειhupostasei

understanding; assumption -  in the sense of “confidence,” see  ch. 11:17;

Hebrews 3:4. The use of the word to represent the “Persons” of the Blessed

Trinity is later. The other sense of the word, “substance” (or underlying base

of attributes), is found in Hebrews 1:3.

 

5 “Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren, that they would go

before unto you, and make up beforehand your bounty, whereof ye had notice

before, that the same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not as of

covetousness.”  That they would go before unto you. The triple repetition of

the word “before” shows how earnest St. Paul is in the matter. The Corinthians

had promised largely; it was evident that there had been, or that there was ground

for fearing that there might be, some slackness of performance. Paul was so

unwilling to have seemed inaccurate in what, he had said about them in Macedonia

that he wished to give them ample notice before the Macedonian delegates arrived.

Your bounty, whereof ye had notice before; your previously promised blessing,

bounty; literally, blessing. The mere word should have acted as an inducement to

generosity. See the use of the word to express a generous gift in Genesis 33:11;

Judges 1:15, etc. (Septuagint); Ephesians 1:3. In this sense it resembles the Hebrew

berachah (Joshua 15:19, etc.). As a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness;

as a blessing, and not as an extortion; i.e. as a free gift of your own, and not as

something which I had wrung from you, or “got out of you” (ch.  7:2; 12:17-18).

It is less likely that the word πλεονεξίαν pleonexiangreed; more having - refers to

the “parsimony” of the Corinthians, as though the smallness of their gift would show

their greed for large gains.

 

 

Covetousness (v. 5)

 

“As a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness.” Dean Plumptre

translates, “as a work of your bounty, and not of my claims upon your

purses.” The Revised Version renders, “and not of extortion,” but putting

the word “covetousness” in the margin. The Greek word πλεονεξίαν

pleonexiancovetousness -  signifies “to have more,” and it signifies

 

ü      one who has more than enough;

ü      one who desires more than enough of whatever kind; and

ü      one greedy after money.

 

But these do not precisely express the thought which is in the word as

employed in Scripture. Covetousness is that exaggerated consideration for

self which makes it possible, not only to neglect the interests of others, but

even to injure others to secure a man’s own ends. It is the desire to get and

to hold for self, which shuts up a man’s hand and heart so that he cannot

give to others. We suggest for treatment:

 

  • THE COVETOUS SPIRIT. Distinguish between covetous acts, and the

covetous spirit which may be cherished in such a way as to utterly spoil

acts which men may call acts of liberality. It is “covetousness,” the selfseeking

spirit, concerning which Paul is anxious, and this is a form of spiritual evil

to which we are all more exposed than we think.   (“Covetousness

which is idolatry” - Colossians 3:5)  The most painful exemplification of

it is found in Judas Iscariot. Its subtle and mischievous workings in him

can be clearly traced. The examples of Achan, Demas, etc., may also be given.

“It is not necessary to describe at any length the sin which the Word of God

brands under the name of ‘covetousness,’ and always associates with whatever

is most offensive and most vile, ‘the root of all evil’ (I Timothy 6:10), by bad

pre-eminence, ‘idolatry.’ We assume its existence. It will not be denied. Its

spell is upon all. It is the abuse and perversion of a great law of man’s nature

the law which teaches him to aspire heavenward and Godward; or of a law

not less primary — the law of self-preservation. It is the ruling passion of

nearly all men, of all tastes and times. “Take heed, and beware of

covetousness, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the

things which he possesseth” said Christ in Luke 12:15; and

though His Word teems with such warnings against the sin, men have not

been warned. At one time men call it ‘the great queen regent of the world;’

at another, ‘the all-consuming cancer’ of the Church; at another, her

deadly upas;’ at a fourth, ‘a fatal opiate;’ while others assure us that, at

the best, man is only the heir of a vault or the lord of a grave. Yet fain are

all such exposures. Though it creeps stealthily upon man like grey hairs or

dropsy, the conquests of covetousness continue far wider than those of

Alexander. The monarch and the menial are alike its slaves:

 

ü      the calm, cool and collected are covetous because this freezing sin

specially suits their nature;

ü      the earnest, because it stimulates;

ü      the licentious, because it can pamper;

ü      the ambitious, because it can exalt;

ü      the stupid, because it compensates for dullness.

 

Prosperity fans it, and adversity cannot quench it; men willingly

bow down before it, as the tyrant summoned them of old to bow before

another idol” (W.K. Tweedie, D.D.).

 

  • ITS RELATION TO THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTER. It is always

and necessarily injurious, and, wherever willingly cherished, not only

imperiling the finer and more delicate features of character, but even

destructive of it root and branch. For the very essence of Christian

character is the love of Christ, which takes us out of ourselves, and absorbs

us with concern for Him; and the love of others, for Christ’s sake, which

sets us upon making their interests superior to our own. Covetousness may

linger in the holes and caves of Mansoul while Immanuel is its King, but

where covetousness reigns CHRIST CANNOT,  or, to put it in other words,

it is absolutely impossible to raise a Christian character upon a foundation of

covetousness, and this spirit will but exert itself to daub and spoil the

whole picture of the Christian graces.

 

  • ITS HINDRANCE TO CHRISTIAN GIVING.

 

ü      By preventing the reception of a due impression of cases of need.

Covetousness hardens, deafens, and blinds.

ü      By compelling its victim to form a false estimate of his ability.

ü      By deceiving a man through the presentation of unworthy excuses.

 

6 “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly;

and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.”

 But this I say. The Greek only has “But this.” The ellipse can

hardly be “I say.” It is an accusative used absolutely — “as to their.”

Compare “But one thing” (Philippians 3:14). Shall reap also

sparingly. In the Greek the more emphatic order is “sparingly also shall

reap.” The metaphor of the harvest implies that the more generous the gift

the richer will be the return; and that “withholding more than is meet” will

only tend to poverty (Proverbs 11:24, 25; 19:17; 22:9). (For “sowing”

and “reaping” in this connection, compare I Corinthians 9:11.)

Bountifully; literally, with blessings; Vulgate, in benedictionibus (compare

Galatians 6:7-8). Bountifulness blesses both him that gives and him

that takes.

 

 

Sowing and Reaping (v. 6)

 

This is one of those natural analogies which are common to all languages

and to all ages. There is sowing and reaping in the history of the individual;

the moral bias of his youth may determine the direction of his after life.

There is sowing and reaping in the experience of a Christian community; its

founders may impart to it an impulse the consequences of which shall be

discernible in distant generations. And in this passage the apostle reminds

his readers that giving is a kind of sowing, and that, as the husbandman

reaps as he has sown, so shall it be in the experience of all benefactors. The

liberal shall reap abundantly; the grudging and sparing shall gather a

slender crop.

 

  • THE LAW OF CORRESPONDENCE BETWEEN SOWING AND

REAPING IS A JUST LAW. It is an appointment of a God of

righteousness. It is in harmony with the principles of His government. Its

maintenance is evidently productive of the welfare of Christian society.

 

  • THIS LAW IS ONE THE OPERATIONS OF WHICH WE CAN IN

SOME MEASURE TRACE.

 

Ø      It may be observed that illiberality stunts the spiritual stature of the

giver, whilst generosity promotes his growth. There is noticeable in

large-hearted and generous natures an expansion which is its own reward; a

happy disposition, a constant satisfaction in the result of gifts and efforts; a

width of view which removes such from the petty and miserable emotions

of envy, jealousy, and suspicion.

 

Ø      In connection with this it may be remarked that the treatment of the

generous by others is in itself a rich reward. The liberal man is honored,

appreciated, loved. Small services, slight tokens of respect, are offered him

which are evidences of deep feeling, and which cannot be received without

gratification. It may be left to observation whether the reverse of this

picture is not equally just — whether the mean, selfish, and niggardly do

not suffer personal deterioration, and whether they do not receive from

their neighbors a merited contempt.

 

  • THERE ARE OPERATIONS OF THIS LAW WHICH IT IS

BEYOND OUR POWER TO TRACE. (“Cast thy bread upon the

waters:  for thou shall find it after many days.”  (Ecclesiastes 11:1) 

If we believe that the results of earthly labor extend into the future eternity,

what a solemnity does this conviction impart to the principles upon which we

are accustomed to act!  The labors of the evangelist, the teachings of the pastor,

the gifts of the supporters of religion, all bear fruit in the world to come. The

nature and the measure of the harvest are largely determined by the way in

which the field is tilled and sown in time. A motive this to that diligence and

devotedness which is commended in the text by the inspired apostle. Only

sow liberally, and by all waters, and, even if you sow in tears, it is promised

that you shall reap in joy.

 

7 “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;

not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.”

In his heart. The heart must not only go with but anticipate the hand.

Grudgingly; literally, from grief (Exodus 25:2; Romans 12:8). A cheerful giver.

The phrase is from the addition to Proverbs 22:8, which is found in the Septuagint

except that “loveth” is substituted for “blesseth.” Compare “He that showeth mercy,

with cheerfulness  (Romans 12:8). The rabbis said that cheerful kindness, even

if nothing was given, was better than a morose gift.

 

 

 

Cheerful Givers (v. 7)

 

Those to whom giving is no forced service, no painful duty, no grudgingly

yielding to command, but the joy of their life, the thing which brings them

their keenest and purest pleasure. We need only suggest the sources

whence such cheerfulness will come. Dean Plumptre points out that in this

sentence we have a distinct echo of Proverbs 22:8, as it stands in the

Greek Version: “He that soweth wicked things shall reap evils, and shall

complete the penalty of his deed. God blesseth a cheerful man and a giver,

and shall complete [in a good sense] the incompleteness of his works.”

“Cheerfulness in visits of sympathy, in the daily offices of kindness, in the

life of home, in giving instruction or advice, — all come under the head of

that which God approves and loves. So the greatest of Greek ethical

teachers (Aristotle) had refused the title of ‘liberal’ to the man who gave

without pleasure in the act of giving. The pain he feels proves that, if he

could, he would rather have the money than do the noble action.”

 

  • CHEERFULNESS THROUGH THE MOTIVE OF GIVING. Which is

that thankfulness and love to Him who was God’s great saving Gift to us,

which kindles in our hearts the joy unspeakable.

 

  • CHEERFULNESS THROUGH THE PLEASURE OF GIVING. For

our Lord read human hearts aright when He said, “It is more blessed to give

than to receive.”  (Acts 20:35)

 

  • CHEERFULNESS THROUGH THE HOPE OF BLESSING BY

GIVING. Our giving meets and supplies needs; it tends to lift off burdens

and to soothe sorrows. It is glad work to find ourselves, in a sinful and a

sorrow-stricken world, healers, comforters, and saviours. No joy is like the

joy of wakening joy in others.

 

  • CHEERFULNESS THROUGH THE SENSE OF DIVINE

APPROVAL ON GIVING. “God loveth the cheerful giver,” and when he

loves, there is for us His uplifted countenance, His acceptance, and His

smile.

 

 

                                                A Cheerful Giver (v. 7)

 

Paul here supports his appeal for liberality by a quotation from Old Testament Scripture.

The words are almost literally those of the Septuagint Version of the Book of Proverbs.

If the most powerful and practical motive to benevolence and especially to almsgiving is

that which comes from the incarnation and from the cross of Christ, still all

revelation enjoins and commends a virtue which is always beneficial to the giver, even

when the advantage to the recipient is questionable.

 

  • GOD HIMSELF IS A CHEERFUL GIVER. There is no grudging in His

            benevolence. If He shows mercy, He delights in mercy. If He gives, He gives

            with open hand and smiling face. (Psalms 104:28; 145:16)

 

  • CHEERFULNESS IN THE GIVER ENHANCES TO THE RECIPIENT

      THE VALUE OF THE GIFT. “One may give with his hand and pull it back

      with his looks.” Some benevolent characters give with such a grace that those       

      who receive at their hands think more of the giver than of the gift. Even a trifle

      in such case is more welcome than a handsome donation from an un-

      sympathizing and uninterested donor. A foreign scholar waited upon a

      theological professor in London, who was a man well known for his exquisite       

      grace and suavity of manner, to lay before him his position as one of peculiar        

      destitution. That he was assisted, and assisted generously, is certain; but as he left            

      the house he was heard to break forth into the exclamation, “Oh, the modus, the   

      modus, the modus! i.e. the manner of the giver in the bestowal of his liberality.

 

  • CHEERFULNESS IN THE GIVER REACTS UPON HIS OWN

            SPIRITUAL NATURE. He who gives coldly, ungraciously, and

            grudgingly, is none the better for the act. But the ready, liberal, and

            cheerful giver is a happier and a more truly Christian man, because of the

            spirit in which he has discharged a duty and rendered a service.

 

  • THERE IS A SPECIAL RECOMPENSE ASSURED TO THE

            CHEERFUL GIVER. “The Lord loveth him.” The Lord sees His own

            character reflected in that of His servant; He witnesses in the generous and

            unselfish spirit the fruit of the redemption wrought by his Son, and of the

            fertilizing operation of his own gracious, free, and beneficent Spirit.

 

 

The Cheerful Giver (v. 7)

 

  • HOW THE CHEERFUL GIVER GIVES.

 

ü      Bountifully. His cheerfulness ensures liberality. It is the grudging giver

who gives but little. But he who gives with gladness will desire much of

that gladness. And he who sows bountifully reaps bountifully, and that

without waiting, for he has at once a great harvest of joy.

 

ü      Willingly. No compulsion is needed. He runs eagerly in the flowery and

fruitful path of charity. He is not driven by the stings of conscience or by

a desire to stand well with his fellows. His heart is enlisted, and the

service he renders is hearty.

 

ü      Joyfully. It is not a pain to him to give, but a pleasure. Some give their

money to the needy as they give their teeth to the dentist; and often the

disposition to give totally disappears on the threshold! But the cheerful

giver enjoys giving. It is a delight to him. How giving is transformed in

character when this is so! The same thing, how different to different

natures! When we have learnted to love giving, what a pure joy we

experience! Before, it was but the carcass of Samson’s dead lion, but

now we gather most luscious honey by handfuls. We miss a most

heavenly joy if we miss the gladness of giving.

 

  • GOD’S REGARD FOR THE CHEERFUL GIVER. What God thinks

of us is the all-important question. Now, the cheerful giver approves

himself to the Most High. And not with cold approbation does God behold

him. “God loveth a cheerful giver.” God loves this kind of giving, and He

loves the one who thus gives. A grudging giver is peculiarly offensive to

God. It is so monstrous that, when God has lent us so many things, we

should hesitate to return to him the few for which He asks. But when we

have as much joy in returning as we had in receiving, he is well pleased.

And when we rise still higher and believe truly that “it is more blessed to

give than to receive,” we please Him the more. The cheerful giver

resembles God, for God is a cheerful Giver; — how bountifully and how

willingly He has endowed us! Here are incentives to cheerful giving — that:

 

ü      we please God,

ü      secure the love of God, and

ü      become like God.

 

  • GOD’S PROMISE TO THE CHEERFUL GIVER. A promise of

great prosperity (vs. 6, 8-10). The short-sighted always judge that giving

means losing, and that saving means gaining; but “There is that scattereth,

and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it

tendeth to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24). And our Master said, “Give,

and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken

together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom, for with the

same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.”

(Luke 6:38; see also Mark 10:29-30). If we want to get little we must give

little. The stingy farmer gets a scanty crop. In God’s providence those who

are benevolent are commonly largely blessed in earthly things. Approving

themselves to God, they are the subjects of His special care; “And God is

able to make all grace abound” unto them (v. 8). If those who give money

do not always get more money, they always get much of what is far better

than money. The distinct promise of God is that they shall be blessed and

prospered. What form the blessing and prosperity shall take will be gladly

left to God by the devout spirit. Often an increase of the means of charity

results. God gives us more that we may give more. Having wisely used

our talent, He entrusts us with further riches (see vs. 8, 10-11).

 

  • THE INFLUENCE OF THE CHEERFUL GIVER.

 

ü      He convinces men of the reality of religion. (v. 13.) Men appreciate

such a test of piety as this. Words they are apt to reckon at a cheap rate,

but spontaneous and joyful liberality staggers them. Cheerful giving is

to be ranked amongst the evidences of Christianity.

 

ü      He causes men to thank and to glorify God. (vs. 11-13.) What is the

origin of Christian benevolence? is a question suggested to the minds of

those blessed by it. And this inquiry terminates in God. As He has

implanted charity in His people’s hearts, He is clearly entitled to the

praise. Aided believers naturally bless God that He has inclined His

stewards to minister to their needs, and magnify His grace which

has produced such fruitfulness in human hearts. The cheerful giver

has a wider and more powerful influence than sometimes he suspects.

 

  • THE GIFTS OF MEN TO THE CHEERFUL GIVER.

 

ü      Their prayers. (v. 14.) What is the price of prayer! What a valuable

return for the expenditure of mere gold! If we secure the earnest, loving,

believing prayers of those to whom we minister, we shall be greatly

enriched. The “prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

Men are willing to give much if their friend will but speak for them to

the sovereign; but the cheerful giver is often spoken for to the King

of kings.  What a difference in the method and results of “so-called

lobbyists contrasted with Christian men interceding for one another!

CY – 2018)

 

ü      Their love. (v. 14.) Love is not to be lightly estimated; it is spiritual

gold, much more precious than material. A man is rich if his treasury

is well stored with the love of his fellows. The love of good men

especially is a large recompense. Here we have the love of man and

the love of God promised to those who delight in mercy and in

helpfulness to the children of want.

 

8 "And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always

having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:"

To make all grace abound toward you.  God can give you such abundant gifts

that you will not feel the loss of a generous contribution to His service.

Sufficiency. The word αὐτάρκειαν - autarkeiancontentment, sufficiency -  

(I Timothy 6:6) in the Stoic philosophy was used for the perfect independence

which enabled a man to stand alone.  The term is here softened and Christianized

to express the contentment which arises from the full supply of all our needs by God.

The affirmations of the original are as emphatic as language can make them. They

express that the man who places all his trust upon God will be “perfect and entire,

lacking nothing” (Philippians 4:11,19).

 

 

Abounding Grace and Abounding Service (v. 8)

 

Christianity does not come to men, saying, “This is pleasant,” or “This is

expedient,” or “This is what society expects from you, and therefore do it.”

It comes saying, “This is what God does, and what God requires you to

do.” It lays the basis for human duty in Divine acts. So with liberality, as in

this passage.

 

  • THE ABUNDANT RESOURCES GOD PUTS AT THE DISPOSAL

OF THE CHRISTIAN.

 

Ø      Men are at their best estate altogether dependent, having in themselves

nothing, but want, weakness, and sin.

 

Ø      All grace is in God; He has both the power and the disposition to supply

every want. It is His nature to bestow; He is the God of grace.

 

Ø      His grace not only gives, it abounds to us. The gift of His Son is the

proof of inexhaustible love. So with the gift of His Spirit. In fact, in the

gospel there is a generosity of bestowment; no withholding and no

grudging.

 

Ø      Christians, as His people, are thus partakers of Divine sufficiency. “All

things are yours;” such is the deed of gift in which the heavenly Father

places at the disposal of his family all the resources of Hhis nature and

liberality.

 

Ø      The liberality of God extends through every stage of individual life, and

through every period of the Church’s history. His bounties and favors

are as:

o        the leaves of the forest,

o        the waves of the sea,

o        the stars of the sky and

§         unnumbered and

§         innumerable.

 

  • THE CORRESPONDING REQUIREMENTS AND EXPECTATIONS

OF GOD FROM HIS PEOPLE. Religion consists of two parts:

 

§         what God does for us, and

§         what God demands from us.

 

Ø      It is taken for granted that the Christian life consists in “good works;”

that the disciple of Christ is naturally a worker, whose energies and

possessions are to be consecrated to God in His Son. Gifts, services,

sympathy, speech, aid, — such are the manifestations of the spiritual life

which the Lord of all desires and beholds.

 

Ø      Here is implied a relation between God’s works and those of His people.

His abounding gifts are to be regarded as:

 

o        the example of ours;

o        the means of ours, for we can only give others what He has given us;

o        the measure of ours, as liberal and generous; and

o        the motive to ours, inasmuch as we are constrained by the love of God

and by the cross of Christ.

 

 

                                                Always (v. 8)

 

Let us not take our standard of Christian life and experience from our own

hearts, or from the customary piety which shows itself around us. The

Lord requires and expects of us constancy — a life regulated by the steady

action of principle, and animated daily by faith, hope, and love. Alas! how

many are unsteady in His service! How their light flickers! how their faith

wavers! how their convictions and affections fluctuate! This is so common

that it seems to be regarded as inevitable. Vacillation and inconstancy are

supposed to be not so much sins as very pardonable infirmities. But is

constancy, while theoretically right, practically impossible? When called to

maintain a steady tenor of Christian life and conduct, may we say, Non

possumus (used as a statement expressing inability to act in a matter?.

 What says Reason? And what says Holy Writ?

 

  • WE ASK THE QUESTION OF REASON, AS A FAIR JUDGE OF

THE NATURE OF THINGS. Physical life is maintained in us by certain

natural processes which never cease from the moment of birth to the

moment of death. The lungs play always, and the heart beats always. We

call these automatic (involuntary) movements, as being not dependent on our

volition.  They continue when we are fast asleep. But moral and spiritual life

rises above mere automation, and requires for its continuance and growth a

succession of moral volitions, a steady and well-directed purpose. Now, is

this state of the will possible? Reason will answer that it is the proper habit

of a healthy and vigorous mind. Weak minds are obstinate or fickle; dull

minds are stolid and monotonous; but those that are strong and intelligent

have a steady moral pulse, a wise tenacity of purpose, and a careful balance

of temper and will. It is the most rational, healthy, and happy condition of

man to believe firmly what he believes, and to maintain an even tenor of

conduct in harmony with his belief. George Herbert is right to praise the

man of constancy, who:

 

“Doth still, and strongly, good pursue;

To God, his neighbors, and himself most true.”

 

·         WE ASK THE QUESTION OF HOLY SCRIPTURE. Does it admit

excuses for inconstancy? or does it assume and require that men who

believe in God should live to Him always? David said, “I have set the

Lord always before me.” No doubt this is absolutely true only of the

great Son of David, of whom the Spirit of prophecy spake in the

sixteenth psalm, as Peter taught on the day of Pentecost. But of all that

was most worthy in the career of the poet king of Israel this was the

sustaining principle; and of his character this formed the sacred charm,

that he constantly kept his eyes upon God. In great deeps of sorrow,

in dens and caves of the earth, in exile, in peril by the sword, among

temptations of ambition, tumults of war, cares of government; in the

obscurity of his youth, in the sudden promotion and the stirring

adventures of his early manhood; in all the publicity of his later years,

in “that fierce light which beats upon a throne;” — always and every-

where the son of Jesse looked to God, and sought to walk in the light

of His countenance. Alas! he looked off, and sinned grievously. We

find no perfect example but that of the Man Christ Jesus, the Son of

David, who maintained a constant obedience to, and therefore a

constant communion with, God (see John 8:29; 11:42). In the midst of

incessant occupations and in the face of frequent “contradiction of

sinners against Himself” (Hebrews 12:3), He found it possible to look

always to the Father in heaven, and do always the Father’s will. So He

knew that the Father heard Him always. Now, every one admits that the

life of Christ is, in its principles and motives, the supreme model for

the life of Christians. But the force of the admission is sadly weakened

for any practical purpose by the prevailing impression that actual

conformity to so perfect a Pattern is not to be expected of any one. Let

us take the example of a servant of Christ. It will not be disputed that

we may and should emulate the attainments and experience of Paul.

Now, he had extraordinary vicissitudes in the course of his ministry,

and does not conceal from us the changing moods of his mind —

now depressed and sorrowful, now bold and enthusiastic. But as respects

the main current of his life and service, Paul was, ever after his

conversion, gloriously consistent. In love to God, in zeal for Jesus, in

fidelity to the gospel, in care for the Churches, in abhorrence of sin, in

esteem of holiness, in vigilant resistance to the devil, and in tender

affection for the saints, he was always the same, and wavered not.

Accordingly we find the word “always” often used in regard to his

own spiritual experience and missionary life (see Acts 24:16 on

conscience; here, ch. 2:14, on the career of a missionary; chps. 4:10 and

5:6 on sufferings and joyful hope). What a living sacrifice to God was

this apostolic man!  What singleness of purpose he had, what integrity of

heart, what constancy, in serving the Lord always.  Why may not similar

constancy be shown by us? God is able to make all grace abound

toward us. (v. 8)  And all the injunctions for Christian life given in

the Holy Book assume that we are to be always and wholly the Lord’s. 

 

Ø      Our speech should be “always with grace, seasoned with salt.”

(Colossians 4:6)

Ø      Our prayers should be offered up always; and

Ø      in active service we should be “always abounding in the

work of the Lord, forasmuch, ye know that your labor

is not in vain in the Lord.”  (I Corinthians 15:58)

 

The proper season for piety is always.  Labor sometimes, study

sometimes, recreation sometimes, sleep sometimes; but the fear of

the Lord always, and the life of faith always. No day of the week,

no hour of the day, without the Lord. This is not bondage: it is the

best liberty. This is not being “righteous overmuch.”  (Ecclesiastes

7:16)  It is simply to order our character and conduct habitually by

the highest aims and models set before us. It is the aspiration of the

meek and lowly, not of the proud. It is the path of the just, which

shines more and more until the perfect day.

 

 

 

God’s Ability and Man’s (v. 8)

 

Even in the early Church, the first Church of the apostles, there was need

of money. In the first Council it was resolved to send a general direction to

the Churches that they should “remember the poor.” The Apostle Paul was

deeply interested in a collection, which he set on foot throughout the

Churches he had founded, on behalf of the poor saints at Jerusalem, and his

last journey to the holy city was occasioned by his earnest desire to present

these “alms and offerings of the Gentiles” with his own hands to the

apostles and elders. This text is directly connected with the matter of

money, of Christian giving for Christian uses, which we properly regard as

still one of the first duties, as it is certainly one of the highest privileges, of

the Christian Church. Paul had been boasting in other places of the

willingness, the heartiness, and the liberality of the Church at Corinth; but

in consequence, perhaps, of the interruption of his relations with them, he

feared that they would hardly come up to the account which, in his

trustfulness, he had given of them He therefore sent on before him

collectors, who were to gather their stored gifts together, and he reminds

them again of those considerations by which he had already urged them to

a noble liberality. “Give,” he says, “according to the generous purposings

of the heart that is made tender and thankful by the sense of God’s saving

love. Remember, ‘he that soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.’

Let your giving be a ‘matter of bounty, not as of covetousness.’ ‘God

loveth a cheerful giver.’ And God is able to give all temporal good to you,

so that, having sufficiency for all your own needs, you yet may be able to

distribute generously. And did not the Lord Jesus lay down for all His

people this most comprehensive principle, ‘It is more blessed to give than

to receive’? And did He not illustrate, in His own uttermost self-sacrifice,

the glory of His own great principle? Verily the beatitude of God rests on

those who give!” This is the first connection of the passage before us, but

it broadens its reach beyond the money and the giving. It covers and

hallows all the features and expressions of our religious life. Wheresoever

we may be, whatsoever we may have to do, whensoever needs arise, the

sound of this assurance comes to us, quieting all fears, and stilling the heart

to peace and rest. There is a gracious power in the word “ALL,” repeated as

it is again and again in the verse. The word seems designed to drive away

every lingering doubt. “All grace,” “all sufficiency,” “all good.”

 

  • GOD’S ABILITY, AND ITS CONDITION. Nothing that is not an

absurdity in the statement is beyond God’s power. Much has been made of

the contention that God cannot put two things into the same place at the

same time, or that he cannot make the addition of two and two make five,

or make two parallel lines ever meet. But, in view of the essential

conditions of human thought and human language, these things are

absurdities, and not impossibilities; and it is no limitation of the Divine

omnipotence to say that God cannot do what is absurd in the very

statement. “He is able.” We feel the truth of this in the world of nature.

Sky and earth and sea proclaim that He is “able.” Who can listen to the wild

storm, hear the mighty winds bowing the great trees, and the thunder

echoes rolling from hill to hill, and the breakers plunging against the

guardian cliffs, and not reverently say, “He is able”? Who can feel how the

gentle spring sunshine warms the wintry air and the chilled ground,

tenderly touching every life germ in bud and seed and plant, and wakening

life and hope and beauty all around, and not lovingly say, “Verily thou art

able “?

 

“O spirit of the strong things and the gentle, thou art able.”

 

But nature is outside us. We may watch the omnipotent workings, but we

want to ask this: “Do we come within the all-powerful grasp?” Admit all

we may about our “free will,” nevertheless, of ourselves, of body, soul,

circumstances, can we say, “He is able”? Yes; in Him we “live, and move,

and have our being.” (Acts 17:28)  Our circumstances are His overruling.

Our souls are His inbreathing. He in whom we trust can do all things. We are

continually crushed by being compelled to say, “I cannot;” but the feeble

limited creature steadies its tremblings by leaning on One who can. “Then Job

answered the Lord, and said, I know that thou canst do everything, and

that no thought can be withholden from thee.” (Job 42:2.  But we long to

know this — What can the almighty God really be to us? Can He come right

into the spheres of our life and work? and is He able to make all grace abound

to us there? Can He “supply all our need out of His riches in glory by Christ

Jesus”?  (Philippians  4:19)  Into the shadow of His fatherhood may we run,

since our “heavenly Father knoweth what things we have need of before we

ask Him”? (Matthew 6:8)  That is the ability of God concerning which we

need to gain such deep and satisfying impressions. As a redeemed son of His,

is He able to find all the grace I need; able to meet me at every point; able to

give the grace according to the day; able to adapt Himself to all the changes and

fluctuations of my moods and circumstances? The little child brings all her

broken dolls and damaged toys to her father; she is perfectly sure that,

however dreadful the damage may be, “father can mend it.” And the sweet

confidence dries up the tears. But the little thing never stops to consider

how strong the father arms are or how skilful his fingers; she only reads his

power by the light of his love; and she is quite sure that he will try, and her

trust says that he will succeed. What can God do for us, his blood-bought

children? He can breathe on us the spirit of a holy contentment. He can

inspire us with zeal unto all good works. He can strengthen us for all noble

enterprise. He can make the mountains of difficulty before us lie level as a

plain. He can so prosper and bless us that very thankfulness shall urge us to

generous and noble deeds. “I cannot indeed, BUT GOD CAN! Let us learn to

say that, and then this will be our glorying — “Here, there, yonder, in this

and in that, in the light and in the dark, I can, through Him who

strengtheneth me.”  (Philippians 4:13)  There is a condition upon which

the ability of God alone can come to us. We must gain and keep the receptive

mood, which includes the humble, obedient, and trustful spirit.

 

  • MAN’S ABILITY AND ITS EXPRESSION. For we also are “able to

abound unto every good work.” Sometimes we are deeply impressed with

the feebleness, the imperfection, of the best that we can do. But when we

estimate that work of grace which God, the All-merciful, is carrying on in

the world — so silent, yet so mighty; so long, and yet so surely triumphant

at last; so rich in long suffering patience; so quick to take up and use a

thousand trifling influences, sanctifying even a passing word and a gentle

look to its gracious ends, — then it seems wonderful that, in so great a

matter, we should be “coworkers with God” (I Corinthians 3:9), and

that the rich streams of Divine grace should even flow to others through us.

With the grace of God we can do all things. In the renewed man there is ability.

God makes him mighty, and uses him to “pull down the strongholds.”

(II Corinthians 10:4)GOD SHOWS him what great things he can suffer,

and what great things he can do, for his Name’s sake. In full harmony

with the Christian humility and dependence we may gain this sense of

Christian ability. We want the inspiration of the conviction settled deeply

into our souls — “I CAN!” We need the cheer that comes to every man

when God says to him, “Thou canst.”  (Mark 9:23)  We are weak,

depressed, hesitating; we touch things with a trembling hand; we faint

before the first difficulty, so long as we say to ourselves, “I cannot.” With

the “all sufficiency” we can abound to every good work.

 

9 (As it is written, He hath dispersed abroad; he hath given to the poor: his

righteousness remaineth for ever.  (As it is written, [The quotation is from the

Septuagint in Psalm 112:9] He hath dispersed abroad. He has been a large and

generous giver. The word here used for poor is πένησιν - penaesin - drudges-

 which does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. It means moderate and

honorable poverty, whereas in classical Greek πτωχείᾳ - ptocheia - poverty -implies

disreputable pauperism and begging (compare ch. 8:9).  His righteousness. 

Meaning here his good deeds.  The word is often rendered “pity” by the Septuagint.

(ἐλεημοσύνην - eleaemosunaen  from which word comes our “alms”), and this word

occurs as a synonymous reading in Matthew 6:1.  Remaineth for ever.   Because:

 

                                    “Good deeds never die.

                        They with the sun and moon renew their light,

                        Forever blessing him that looks on them.”

 

 

 

Correspondence Between Christian Sowing and Reaping

                                    (vs. 9)

 

There was nothing of chance or luck in the operations of beneficence. It was a

transaction with God, who had instituted certain laws for its government.

 

1. As to the law of proportion. If they sowed sparingly, they reaped

sparingly; if bountifully, they reaped bountifully. This was natural law. It

was also spiritual law. If the law met them everywhere, addressed the

senses and the soul, and enforced itself both in providence and grace,

surely they could not but give very profound heed to a principle which was

so amply illustrated.

 

2. As to the spirit of giving. The law was spontaneity of sentiment —

according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give;” and again, it was

cheerfulness of feeling — not “grudgingly, or of necessity; for God loveth

a cheerful giver.” On this aspect of giving, the apostle had delivered his

mind without reservation. Freedom here was scrupulously insisted on. To

be Christ-like it must be wholly self-directed. It must be born directly of

the Spirit. Vast and indeed sacred as human agency is, there are seasons

when the Spirit bids it retire, and He takes the soul into His solitary

communion.

 

3. The element of recompense is stated. “God is able to make all grace

abound toward you.” Blessings used rightly would bring other and larger

blessings. Benevolent contributions were disciplinary. The act was

educative. If a man gave because of his love to Christ, if he gave willingly

and cordially, if he gave freely, then he was being trained as a giver, and of

course was, in this particular, a growing man. Any sort of arrested

development in goodness is bad enough, but this checking of progress in

love is peculiarly harmful. Worldliness rushes back with an

overwhelming current. Avarice, denied its food for a time, has a voracious

appetite. And, therefore, the very urgent need of growth in this sentiment,

which the apostle argues in a manner uncommonly forcible. Spiritual

blessings are assured. “All grace abound toward you.” Temporal blessings

are promised. “Always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to

every good work.” There was to be an “all sufficiency,an overflowing

measure on God’s part, so as to furnish the means or resources for

continued and enlarged benevolence, or otherwise the growth would stop.

“Every good work” has a very broad signification. We take it to mean a

very wide and generous activity in kind deeds, an “enthusiasm,” not for

humanity,” but for Christ in humanity, and a desire and a purpose

expanding in the ratio of new blessings, spiritual and temporal, to pour

forth its heart in ministration to others. “God is able.” Yet we must not

forget that He never resigns His Divine sovereignty in a promise or to a

promise, but is infinitely wise and considerately tender in the administration

of providential blessings. To elucidate his meaning, Paul quotes from

Psalm 112:9, “He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor, his

righteousness endureth forever.” The rule is that God gives us what we

have in order that He may give us more. There is a future in everything, a

future in every seed, a future in every dollar honestly made, a future in

every blessing God bestows. But it is for HIM ALONE to order this future,

so as to “make all grace abound” in us, and to enable us to “abound to every

good work.”

 

10 Now he that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for your food,

and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness;) 

He that ministereth.  The verb used is ἐπιχορηγῶν - epichoraegon - one suppling;

furnishing abundantly. At Athens a choragus was one who furnished a chorus, and

as this was a leitourgia (or “public service”), involving great expense, and often

discharged with extreme munificence, the verb came to imply “provide abundantly.”

Paul may  (so to speak) have “picked up the word” at Athens.  Seed to the sower 

(Isaiah 55:10).  Both minister. The true reading almost certainly is “will both supply

bread for food, and will multiply your seed for sowing, and will increase the fruits

of your righteousness” (see Isaiah 55:10, Septuagint).   The fruits of your

righteousness;)  (Hosea 10:12, Septuagint). In “righteousness,” as in all things

else, it  is God only who  “gives the increase” (I Corinthians 3:7).

 

 

 

God’s Rewards for Liberal Souls (v. 10)

 

This verse may be read in a sentence: “The liberal soul shall be made fat.”

F.W. Robertson’s passage in reference to this is so characteristic of him,

and so wise and suggestive, that it cannot be withheld. He says, “In the

particular instance now before us, what are the rewards of liberality which

Paul promises to the Corinthians? They are:

 

(1) the love of God (v. 7);

(2) a spirit abounding to every good work (v. 8);

(3) thanksgiving on their behalf (vs. 11-13).

 

A noble harvest, but all spiritual. Comprehend the meaning of it well. Give,

and you will not get back again. Do not expect your money to be returned,

like that of Joseph’s brethren in their sacks’ mouths. When you give to

God, sacrifice, and know that what you give is sacrificed, and is not to be

got again, even in this world; for if you give, expecting it back again, there

is no sacrifice: charity is no speculation in the spiritual funds, no wise

investment, to be repaid with interest either in time or eternity! No, the

rewards are these: Do right, and God’s recompense to you will be the

power of doing more right. Give, and God’s reward to you will be the

spirit of giving more; a blessed Spirit, for it is the Spirit of God Himself,

whose life is the blessedness of giving. Love and God will pay you with the

capacity of more love, for love is heaven, love is God within you.” Setting

out the various forms in which Divine rewards come to liberal souls, we

notice:

 

  • TEMPORAL PROSPERITY. However true it is that this was associated

with goodness only under the Old Testament economy, it is still found that

the liberal soul makes friends, wins love, and so secures actual temporal

advantages.

 

  • HUMAN LOVE. It is our best earthly treasure, and it comes in

response to our power to give. The dearest relationships of human life are

the rewards of them that can give. And Job reminds us how the good man,

the gracious man, gets his reward in the love of the poor whom he seeks to

bless (Job 29:11-17).

 

  • SOUL CULTURE. For it is a steadfast law of soul life, that it cannot

grow by keeping; it can only grow by giving, expending. The law of

receiving more grace is this — we must use up, in good generous deeds,

the grace that we have.

 

  • POWER TO DO MORE GOOD. See the extract from F.W.

Robertson given in the introduction to this homily.

 

  • DIVINE FAVOR. Which must include those rewards of the heavenly

world which now escape our apprehension, because they can only be

presented to us in material forms and figures. T. Binney says, “Beneficent

acts, right in spirit and principle, though they may be forgotten by the doer

    who may not let his ‘left hand know what his right hand doeth’

(Matthew 6;3) are not forgotten by Him to whose will they have an

ultimate respect, and by whom they are received as a sacrifice. They have

a relation to God, and are regarded by Him long after they have been

accomplished and have passed away from the memory of man. They do

not terminate with their being finished and done with here, or, so to speak,

with the immediate pleasurable impression on the Divine mind. That

impression is retained and prolonged. He to whom they rise up as incense

gives to them, as it were, a substantial embodiment in the upper world —

lays them up there as valuable treasure belonging to His children, and

thinks of and surveys them with satisfaction and complacency.”

 

11 "Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through

us thanksgiving to God."  To all bountifulness; rather, to all simplicity, or

singleness of heart” (ch.  8:2). Through us. We are the agents in collecting and

distributing your gifts (ch. 8:19-20).  Thanksgiving to God. From the recipients

of your single-hearted generosity.

 

 

 

True Enrichment (v. 11)

 

The encouragement which the apostle here addresses to the Corinthian

Christians, in order to stimulate their liberality, is appropriate to all

professed followers of the Lord Jesus. Paul urges that the liberal helper of

others is in every respect the wealthier and happier for his generosity. It is

not the highest motive, but it is sound and powerful and effective.

 

  • THE HUMAN NEED OF SUCH ENRICHMENT. Impoverishment is

the lot of multitudes; but whilst many are deeply sensible of their temporal

needs, it is too often the case that, with regard to spiritual possessions,

they boast that they are rich and increased with goods, and know not that

they are poor (Revelation 3:17).  In fact, we have nothing which we have

not received from the free bounty of Him who is the Giver of all.

(I Corinthians 4:7)

 

  • THE DIVINE AUTHOR OF SUCH ENRICHMENT. The God of

nature supplies the need and relieves the poverty distinctive of our bodily

and physical state. The God of grace provides liberally for the wants of the

soul, saying to his child, “Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is

thine(Luke 15:31).                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

  • THE VARIETY AND PLENTITUDE OF THIS ENRICHMENT.In

everything,” says the apostle. He appears to teach that, as a general rule, it

is the ordinance of Providence that the way of liberality should be the way

of prosperity. All have known fortunate and wealthy niggards; and all have

known generous men who have come to poverty; but such cases are the

exception. And if generosity is the way to temporal abundance, a liberal

spirit is sure to acquire virtues and excellences. Faith, hope, and love, — all

are cultivated in the exercise of liberality; progressive enrichment is the

recompense of a large heart and open hands.

 

  • THE HUMAN AND EARTHLY RESULT OF THIS ENRICHMENT.

This is increase of liberality; the more the generous man receives from God,

the more he helps his fellow men.  (I heard of a man who said one time,

“God keeps shoveling it in and I keep shoveling it out, but He has a

bigger shovel than I do!”  CY – 2018)

 

  • THE ULTIMATE RESULT OF THIS ENRICHMENT. Thanksgiving

will be rendered to God, both by the liberal who are enriched, by the

grateful recipients of their abundant bounty, and by all who witness the

fruit of the Spirit and the evidences of the power of the Saviour’s love.

 

12 "For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of

the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God;"

For the administration of this service. The word λειτουργίας -leitourgias

liturgy,” here rendered “service,” is used in the same connection in Romans 15:27.

Generally it means “religious service” (Acts 13:6; Philippians 2:17; Hebrews 10:11).

Here it more resembles its classic sense of “a public office discharged for the good

of the state,” such as undertaking the office of a choragus (see v. 10) -  Not only.

Paul is anxious to emphasize the religious side of the contribution fully

as much as its philanthropic object.   Is abundant.  It overflows as it were in the

form of thanksgivings to God.

 

13 Whiles by the experiment of this ministration they glorify God for your

professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal distribution

unto them, and unto all men;”  - If the Corinthians behaved with such brotherly

kindness to the once –despised Jews, who were now their Christian brethren,

they would be not likely to refuse fellowship with any others.  It showed their due

subjection to the truths and duties of the teaching of the gospel and that they

were united to their Jewish brethren and to all others in single-hearted fellowship.

 

By the experiment of this ministration; rather, by the test (of your love) furnished

by this ministration (ch. 8:2). For your professed subjection; literally, for the

submission of your confession to the gospel of Christ. And for your liberal

distribution unto them; rather, and for the simplicity of your fellowship

towards them. A large contribution would prove two things; namely:

 

  • that the Corinthians showed due subjection to the truths and duties

which they theoretically accepted as resulting from the gospel; and

 

  • that they were united to their Jewish-Christian brethren and to all

others in single-hearted fellowship.

 

  • It is very doubtful whether ἁπλότητι - haplotes ever means “liberality,”

and κοινωνίας - koinonias is here better understood of

communion” than of “communication.’’ Unto all men. For if the

Corinthians behaved with such brotherly kindness to the once-despised

Jews, who were now their Christian brethren, they would be not likely to

refuse fellowship with any others.

 

14 And by their prayer for you, which long after you for the exceeding grace of

God in you.”   And by their prayer for you. These words are joined by our

Authorized Version with “glorifying God.” The saints at Jerusalem would,

in consequence of the proved sincerity of the Corinthians, glorify God with

thanksgiving for their faithfulness and kindness, by prayer for them. The

Revisers take the clause with the following participle, “while they

themselves also, with supplication on your behalf, long after you by reason

of the exceeding grace of God in you.” This is the only right view of the

construction. Long after you for the exceeding grace of God in you;

literally, yearn for you because of the grace of God which overabounds to

you.

 

15 Thanks be unto God for His unspeakable gift.” Thanks be unto God.  

Nothing ever seems so much to disburden the full heart of Paul after deep emotion

as an utterance of thanksgiving (Romans 7:25; 9:5; 11:33; I Corinthians 15:57;

Galatians 1:5; I Timothy 1:17). The thanksgiving here is like a great sigh of relief.

The subject of it is perfectly general. It is not a mere “Amen” uttered, as it were,

by Paul at the end of the thanksgivings of the saints at Jerusalem which he has

been presupposing; but an offering of thanks to God for the issues of grace in

general, all summed up in one act of “inestimable love” (John 3:16; Romans

6:23; 11:33; Ephesians 3:19).

 

 

 

                                        Genuine Beneficence – (vs. 6-15)

 

“But this I say, He which soweth,” Our subject is — The way and worth of genuine

beneficence.

 

  • THE WAY OF GENUINE BENEFICENCE. What is the method of its

            operations? How does it develop itself?

 

ü      Bountifully. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap

      also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also

      bountifully.” The apostle does not intimate, still less dictate, the

      amount of contribution he required, but what he requires is

      bountifulness. Nothing begrudging or from restraint, but with a full,

      open, generous heart. (For the way God operates see Psalms 104:28;

      145:16; - CY – 2010)  A man may give bountifully who only subscribes

      a mite, and stingily who subscribes his ten thousand dollars. In the v. 5      

      Paul says, “The same might be ready, as a matter of bounty, and not    

      as of covetousness.”

 

ü      Deliberately.Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so

      let him give.” A spurious charity gives from impulse or pressure. There

      is a species of eloquence which extorts money, which the giver regrets as   

      soon as he has parted with it. Genuine charity acts not thus; it forms a        

      generous purpose, and from that purpose it acts, as love always acts, on     

      the universe.

 

ü      Cheerfully. “Not grudgingly, or of necessity.” There are those who part

                        with their contributions as if they parted with their life blood. They have

                        been wrung from them, and they groan when they are gone. Genuine

                        charity acts not thus; its greatest happiness is in giving. In sooth, he who

                        gives reluctantly never truly gives at all. God loveth a cheerful giver.”                            

                        His own happiness is in giving; He rejoices in the happiness of the                                      

                        creation, and to be happy there must be giving.

 

  • THE WORTH OF GENUINE BENEFICENCE. The most valuable

            thing in the universe is genuine, practical love, or charity.

 

ü      It is a most valuable thing in its issues.

 

Ø      It confers happiness on the man who practices it. Every act of

      it is to him a seed of life, a seed which in his own soul, as in a         

      garden, will germinate and grow, and will produce fruits,    

      delectable to the moral tastes, and strengthening to the moral          

      powers of the soul, imperishable fruit. The more of these deed       

      germs he sows, the more abundant the harvest. “He which

      soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly, and he which            

      soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” He will be          

      “blessed in his deed” -  (James 1:25) – in truth, there only is          

      blessedness to be found.

 

Ø      It ensures the blessing of the Almighty.

 

o       He sees that the man of charity shall lose nothing by

      his contributions.  “God is able to make all grace

      abound toward you; that ye, always having

                                                all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every

                                                good work.” (v. 8)  The God of goodness sees that no

                                                man shall be really injured by his goodness. “In all thy

                                                gifts show a cheerful countenance, and dedicate thy

                                                tithes with gladness. Give unto the Most High according

                                                as He hath enriched thee; and as thou hast gotten, give

                                                thee with a cheerful eye. For the Lord recompenseth, and                                                   

                                                will give thee seven times as much” (Ecclus. 35:9-11).

                                                He sees that his beneficent deeds shall be blessed forever.                                                   

                                                “his righteousness remaineth forever.” (v. 9) - A good                                                     

                                                deed is a seed that will go on multiplying forever.                                                                

                                                Beneficence, after all, is righteousness.

 

o       It alleviates the distress of mankind. “For the

administration of this service not only supplieth the

want of the saints, but is abundant also by many

thanksgivings unto God.” (v. 12)  What hushes the

sorrows of the distressed, heals the wounds of the

afflicted, relieves the poverty of the indigent, dispels

the darkness of the ignorant? Practical beneficence.

      It is, indeed, through this that God helps the world to

       rise from its fallen condition of guilt and misery.

 

o       It is promotive of universal worship. “Whiles by the

      experiment of this ministration they glorify God for

      your professed subjection unto the gospel of Christ.”

      (v. 13) and “which causeth through us thanksgiving to    

      God.” (v. 11) – The tendency of practical beneficence is

      to turn the world to the universal worship of the one

      God, the Source of all good.

 

Ø      It is a most valuable thing in itself. “Thanks be unto God for His

                                    unspeakable gift.” What is the “gift” here? Undoubtedly charity,                                     

                                    or practical love. Has Paul here a special reference to Christ? Be

                                    it so. The value of that gift was the love which it expressed,                                                

                                    incarnated, and diffused. The gift of love is the highest gift.

                                    Outside of the Godhead – the greatest thing in the universe is                                            

                                    mind, the greatest thing in mind is love, and the greatest element

                                    in love is practical philanthropy.

 

 

   Unity in Nature and Grace:  The Manifold Results of Beneficence

      and Thanksgiving.

                                                (vs. 10-15)

 

Paul had spoken in the sixth verse of the law of the spiritual harvest —

proportion of reward in reference to quantity, so much sowing followed by

so much reaping. But there is another law — a grain of corn or wheat

produces many grains. In some instances hundreds of seeds come from one

seed. Seeds multiply seeds, and the harvest of a county may sow a large

territory. Nothing in the vegetable kingdom is on a stinted scale.

Omnipotence touches a clod of earth, and in a few months it is transformed

into bread; but this is not all the wonder, for that clod has yielded far more

than it received. Thus it is that, in the physical world, labor becomes

accumulative, producing over and above its own wants a vast surplus,

which goes to feed those who are unable to work. Not abundance but

superabundance is the lesson nature teaches. We make enough to supply

necessities, comforts, and luxuries; enough to meet artificial wants; enough

to compensate for impotence, idleness, and dissipation; enough to allow far

a waste that can scarcely be computed. So it is in spiritual things. The

productive power is immensely rewarded. This striking correspondence

was in his view when Paul said, “He that supplieth seed to the sower

and bread for food, shall supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and

increase the fruits of your righteousness” (Revised Version). The fact is

always grander than the figure and hence we may believe that the fruits of

righteousness will infinitely surpass the work done. Observe now that this

was a present thing as well as a future thing. Just then a gracious influence

was spreading through the Churches and uniting them in closer fellowship

by reason of a common interest in behalf of Jerusalem. And, furthermore,

they should be “enriched in everything to all bountifulness,” no lack of seed

for sowing, fruits of righteousness abounding, and especially their liberality

should cause thanksgiving to God. This idea of thanksgiving fills a large

space in his mind. It becomes in the twelfth verse “many thanksgivings.”

What joy would it bring to Jerusalem! How far would the glad tidings

spread! Not only for the pecuniary aid afforded, but for this new and

cheering evidence of their obedience unto the gospel of Christ, what praise

would ascend to God! If we could transfer ourselves into the position of

these early Christians and enter into their feelings, especially those of the

Jerusalem Church, we should realize the apostle’s meaning where he lays

such a stress on the results of this Gentile beneficence. But we can hardly

approximate this state of mind. The loneliness of the saints at Jerusalem,

the large sacrifice of property after Pentecost, the loss of employment

because of professing faith in Christ, the destitution and suffering that had

befallen them, the growing disturbances with Rome, the increase of bitter

strife among the Jews, the darkness with its prophetic woes descending on

the doomed city, parties becoming more and more virulent in their

antagonisms to one another, and amid it all, the “poor saints” subjected to

all sorts of insult and grievance, give us but a general idea of the misery

and wretchedness they were enduring. It was all very real to Paul. No

such earthly reality as Jerusalem occupied his intellect and heart. Was he

looking forward to the day (as Stanley suggests) when he should stand in

the holy city and witness the gratitude of the Church for this great

benefaction? Likely enough; but whether so or not, it is certain that his soul

overflowed with joy. It was a grand proof of brotherhood between Jewish

and Gentile Christians. It was the perfecting link in the chain that was to

bind them together. It was a blessed testimony to the divineness of the

gospel contemplating the gifts, he rises in a moment to the Divine Gift,

and exclaims, “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable Gift!”

 

 

 

The Unspeakable Gift (v. 15)

 

The gifts of the Corinthians to their poor brethren in Judaea were

welcomed, acknowledged, approved. But every Christian duty and service

led the mind of the apostle up to Christ Himself. Earthly gifts suggested to

his mind that Gift which is heavenly and supreme.

 

  • GOD’S GIFT TO MAN.

 

ü      The Lord Christ is emphatically the Gift of God. He was sent by the

Father, and His mission was a proof of the Father’s interest and love. All

gifts beside are pale and poor, by reason of the splendor and the beauty of

this.

 

ü      The Lord Christ is the unspeakable Gift of God; i.e. so rich and

wonderful as not to be capable of a full description. Observe:

 

Ø      Its intrinsic value. Could God Himself give a more precious treasure

than the Son of His love? He is “the Pearl of great price.”

(Matthew 13:45-46)

 

Ø      Its adaptation to the needs of those to whom it is given. Christ is the

Gift of bread to the hungry, of water to the thirsty, of freedom to

the slave.  Spiritual good was what man needed; and it was what

came to man by Christ.

 

Ø      Its infinite train of blessing. We are told that “all things” are placed at

the disposal of those from whom God has not withheld His Son. And

this doctrine is one which experience supports. The innumerable

blessings which have come into the world with the gospel are a proof

that the language of Scripture is not exaggerated.

 

  • MAN’S GRATITUDE TO GOD.

 

ü      It is often wickedly withheld. Our Lord was despised and rejected of

men when He was upon earth; and there are still multitudes who are

insensible to His preciousness, and who take no part in the grateful praises

of His Church.

 

ü      It is offered by appreciative hearts. They who have gratefully accepted

the boon, who have tasted and seen that the Lord is good (Psalm 34:8),

they are forward to acknowledge the liberality and the loving kindness

of the great Giver above.

 

ü      It is openly and joyfully expressed by those who feel it. Hymns of

grateful praise; a loving witness to the world of the Divine pity and

kindness; gifts to His cause, which are accepted as offered to Himself; deeds

of cheerful and holy obedience;  such are the means by which the

redeemed and spiritually enriched may show forth their gratitude for the

Gift which is unspeakable.

 

 

                                    The GIFT of Gifts – (v. 15)

 

Undoubtedly this is the gift of the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul has been speaking of

the lesser gifts of saints. Now he rises to God’s supreme Gift. Consider:

 

  • THE GIVER. God. Who could give Christ but God? We must not

            forget that God gave Christ. Many do, and form the erroneous notion that,

            whilst Christ is their friend, God is their enemy. REDEMPTION is of the

            WHOLE DEITY. “God so loved the world,” etc. Note: the Giver was a God

 

ü      unworshipped

ü      unserved,

ü      unloved,

ü      grievously sinned against,

ü      defied in the very act of giving.

 

It was whilst we were yet sinners that Christ came to redeem us. (Romans 5:8)

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to

be the Propitiation for our sins” (I John 4:10).

 

  • THE GIFT.

 

ü      A gift.

 

Ø      A free gift. Nothing was given in exchange. Men had nothing to

                                    give.

Ø      A voluntary gift. Prompted by Divine compassion and love.

Ø      An undeserved gift. Men deserved condemnation, not Christ!

Ø      A continuous gift. Christ is not ours merely for a time.

                                    He is ours forever and ever. He is the saint’s everlasting                                                    

                                    inheritance.

 

ü      An unspeakable gift.

 

Ø      In value. The most costly of gifts. The pearl of great price.

(Matthew 13:44-46) - The treasure discovered in the fields of heaven.

Who can estimate the value of such a gift as this? If God had given a

thousand worlds or all the angelic hosts, He would have given less.

 

Ø      In splendor. Consider the graces, powers, and infinite

      excellences of Christ. His presence made heaven glorious.

 

Ø      In efficacy. This gift fully met our need. How fully we yet

      know not, for now we are looking through a darkened glass. All       

      our known wants are supplied by the Redeemer, and the vast            

      catalogue of wants as yet unknown to us. Through Him we are        

      pardoned, cleansed, sanctified, adopted, and through Him we        

      shall at last be brought into the great home above.

 

  • THE RECIPIENTS OF THE GIFT.

 

ü      Human beings. Christ was given to the human race, not to the angelic,

                        nor to the merely animal. How greatly honored is mankind! If Christ

                        was given to men, WHAT A FUTURE MUST BE BEFORE THOSE

                        WHO RECEIVE THIS GIFT!

 

ü      Fallen human beings. Man, “made a little lower than the angels,”

      (Psalm 8:5) soon fell much lower, and then the GIFT came. A

      marvelous return for man’s apostasy! When the cry of humanity was

      for sternest punishment, Heaven’s response was “JESUS OF

      NAZARETH” -  Well may we exclaim, “Oh the depth of

                        the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how

                        unsearchable are his judgments, and His ways past tracing out!”

                        (Romans 11:33).

 

  • APPROPRIATE GRATITUDE. Paul cries, “Thanks be to God” (v. 15)

      and well he may. How can we thank God enough for such a gift as this? What

            would be our state if this gift had not been bestowed?

 

                                    “Love so amazing, so Divine,

                                    Demands my soul, my life, my all.”

 

            Throughout eternity we shall praise God for the gift unspeakable. Now let

            us praise Him with:

 

ü      Lip. Tell out our gratitude. Suppressed praise is indecent. We should

                        desire all the world to know how thankful we are.

 

ü      Heart. The tongue in this matter must be moved by the spirit, or it will

                        not make sweet music in the ear of God. The gift came from the heart of

                        God: let our thanksgiving come from the heart also.]

 

ü      Active service. What are we willing to do to show our gratitude? Paul

                        was so subdued by the “unspeakable gift” that he loved to call himself                            

                        the slave of Jesus Christ;” and he counted no toil too severe to show

                        his thankfulness.

 

ü      Life. Our whole being and existence should constitute a psalm. This is

                        the true “psalm of life.” Every power should be pressed into the service.                            

                        As this gift is ever the supreme blessing in our life, we should ever be                                

                        praising God for it.  Terrible thought! The unspeakable Gift may be                                   

                        rejected! What UNSPEAKABLE FOLLY, what UNSPEAKABLE

                        GUILT,  what UNSPEAKABLE CONDEMNATION  MUST

                        FOLLOW!

 

 

The Unspeakable Gift (v. 15)

 

This can refer to none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself said,

in such a striking way to the woman of Samaria, “If thou knewest the gift

of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest

have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (John 4:10).

In Jesus Christ “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians

2:9)  And “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son”

(John 3:16; compare  Romans 5:15; 6:23; Hebrews 6:4).

 

  • CHRIST IS A GIFT. This is but reminding us that salvation is altogether

of grace. We in no sense can be said to have purchased Christ. Nor did any

merit of ours attract Him. Nor by any power of ours did we win Him. God

pitied us in our lost estate, and gave His Son. “.....while we were yet sinners,

Christ died for us!”  A priceless Gift indeed, seeing that it includes:

 

Ø      Pardon.

Ø      Peace.

Ø      Eternal life.

 

  • CHRIST IS GOD’S GIFT. This reminds us that salvation is a Divine

work. We read of the “grace of God” and the “gift by grace.” And when

there was no eye to pity and no arm to save, His own arm brought

salvation.” (Isaiah 59:16)  Salvation is said to be of God to show us:

 

ü      It is not some human scheme. This is the essential difference between

Christ’s salvation and all other salvations. They are human devices —

philosophies or religions; this is Divine intervention, arrangement, and

revelation; God’s power directly working in God’s way. It is indeed God

himself saving men. To trust in any merely human redemption schemes is

like hoping to save a drowning man with a rope that is too short.

 

ü      To give us right views of God. Man’s usual thought of God is that of an

offended King or stern Judge. But the unspeakable Gift reveals the higher

truth that God is love, and the gift being that of a Son unfolds the sublime

fact that God is Father. So WE KNOW GOD THROUGH HIS GIFT!

 

  • CHRIST IS AN UNSPEAKABLY PRECIOUS GIFT. This reminds

us that salvation is priceless. It is beyond all possibility that we could speak

worthily of:

 

ü      all the glory of Christ Himself;

ü      all the sorrow Christ went through;

ü      all the needs which Jesus can meet; or

ü      all the love that Jesus feels.

 

The apostle felt overwhelmed with the thought of it, and spoke of the “love

of Christ, which passeth knowledge.”  (Ephesians 3:19)

 

  • CHRIST IS A GIFT OFFERED FOR OUR ACCEPTANCE. It

suffices no man to know that this Gift has come; nor to know that others

have received it to the joy and rejoicing of their hearts. No man can offer

worthy heart thanksgiving for this Gift until he has personally accepted it,

sufficiently proved it, and can speak for himself of the pricelessness of it.

The law is this: “He that hath the Son hath life  (I John 5:12).  And he can

thank God for HIS UNSPEAKABLE GIFT!”

 

 

 

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