Read: 2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Consider: In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul spoke to the Corinthian believers about the collection for the suffering church in Jerusalem. He uses the generosity of the Macedonians as an example of sacrificial giving when he says: For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability (2 Corinthians 8:3).
Turning to today’s reading from 2 Corinthians 9, Paul acknowledges that the believers in Corinth are also eager to help, having promised to give what they could to support the believers in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 9:2). Paul tells us that it was the eagerness of the Corinthians that stirred the Macedonians to give so generously (9:2). We, therefore, have two examples of generosity used by Paul in his letter to the Corinthians; the actual generosity of the Macedonians and the promised generosity of the Corinthians.
Paul then says something in 2 Corinthians 9:6 that we might wrongly interpret as putting pressure on the Corinthian believers. He says: Remember this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. However, what he says next clarifies that the Corinthians’ giving was a matter between them and God: Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver (9:7). Jesus said this about giving: But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you (Matthew 6:3-4). So give what you can (much or little), but do not give because you feel pressured to do so, or to be recognised by others as a generous giver.
In what ways do these examples of generosity recorded by Paul affect you? Do they encourage you to give generously and sacrificially? Do they help you to see that your example of giving may be used by God to encourage others also to give generously? Have you ever thought of your giving as ‘sowing’? When we give to the church, charities, individuals or communities we should not just give, but we should also pray that God will use the gift we have sown to produce a harvest.
Pray: Father, give us a generous heart that doesn’t hold back, but is willing to help others in need. May the gifts that we ‘sow’ produce the results you desire and bring glory to your name. Amen
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