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
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
poor Christians at
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
very many.” I boast of you; literally, I am boasting. The tense shows that Paul is
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
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.”
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
relieving the wants of the mother Church at
encourages this beneficial emulation.
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)
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
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.
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
The Contagion of Charity (v. 2)
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.
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.
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)
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.”
haply if they of
we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.”
They of Macedonia; rather, Macedonians;
i.e. any friends from
(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 –
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
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
to have seemed inaccurate in what, he had said about them in
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 – pleonexian – greed; 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 –
pleonexian – covetousness - 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:
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.).
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.”
that thankfulness and love to Him who was God’s great saving Gift to us,
which kindles in our hearts the joy unspeakable.
our Lord read human hearts aright when He said, “It is more blessed to give
than to receive.” (Acts 20:35)
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.
APPROVAL ON GIVING. “God loveth the cheerful giver,” and when he
loves, there is for us His uplifted countenance, His acceptance, and His
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.
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)
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
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 - autarkeian – contentment, 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
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
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
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
o the leaves of the forest,
o the waves of the sea,
o the stars of the sky and
§ unnumbered and
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?
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
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.”
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
had founded, on behalf of the poor saints at
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
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.”
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
“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.
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
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
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
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
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
(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
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
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).
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.
Robertson given in the introduction to this homily.
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 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)
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).
everything,” says the apostle. He appears to teach that, as a general rule, it
is the ordinance of
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.
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)
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:
which they theoretically accepted as resulting from the gospel; and
others in single-hearted fellowship.
andκοινωνίας - 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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.”
would it bring to
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
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
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
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
looking forward to the day (as
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)
of the Corinthians to their poor brethren in
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.
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
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
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.
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:
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 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).
ü A gift.
Ø A free gift. Nothing was given in exchange. Men had nothing to
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
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.
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
the riches both of the wisdom and the knowledge of God! how
unsearchable are his judgments, and His ways past tracing out!”
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
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
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
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).
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 Eternal life.
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!
us that salvation is priceless. It is beyond all possibility that we could speak
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)
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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