Text: 2Corinthians 9
With love, even God’s own divine love in our hearts, Paul and I speak to you from 2Corinthians 9 today. We want you to join us in being the Amen to God’s promises of reconciliation, of salvation, and of the infilling of the Holy Spirit! Yes! Truth! He has done it in me! You will say the same thing, when you are filled!
If I were to give this a title, it would be, “His Indescribable Gift.” What is His indescribable gift which cannot adequately be described in words? Life in the Son, eternal life, and then, the Father and the Son and the Spirit fully indwelling you, so your sin nature dies and you are freed from slavery to sin!
Words fail me! All I can do is shout, “Hallelujah!”
Verses 1-2 —
Paul says it is superfluous (excessive, abundant beyond need) for him to write to the church at Corinth about the ministry of giving to the saints — the collection he has spoken of throughout Chapter 8.
Why? He tells them he knows their readiness (willingness of mind). But they have not given and have not been willing! The intent of Paul’s words is to shame them into giving. He has confidence that they will obey, he tells them! So, if they don’t give as they ought, they will embarrass Paul AND they themselves will be embarrassed when they face Paul, and when they face all of the churches who freely and abundantly give.
He boasts about them to the Macedonians, saying that Achaia, the region where Corinth is located, has been prepared (was ready to give) since last year, and that their zeal (desire to give as the Macedonians do) has stirred up most of the Macedonians to expect Corinth to comply. Paul has told everyone that the believers at Corinth have an abundance of funds. The question is, will their greed override their desire not to be embarrassed and shamed before others?
If they do not send their collection, the Macedonians will know that they did not do as Paul requested, though they have had and have held the funds to do it for a year. Thus, the believers at Corinth will be embarrassed by their lack of giving. Paul is “painting them into a corner,” so they will have no choice but to give.
Verse 3 —
To ensure that the believers at Corinth do their part in giving, he again says that he is sending the brethren (Titus, Apollos, and one other) in order that Paul’s boasting in them would not be made empty (of no effect) in this case. So the brethren are being sent to help the Corinthians prepare their collection.
Verse 4 —
Again, Paul paints them into a corner. If the Corinthians are not ready with their gift when Paul and some of the Macedonians come, they will be shamed. Paul says, we — not to speak of you — will be put to shame (disgraced, dishonored) by my boasting which has been made void and of no effect.
Verse 5 —
So, to ensure that no one is shamed, Paul thought it necessary to call for and exhort the brethren (again, Titus and the rest) to go on ahead to Corinth to arrange beforehand the Corinthians’ previously promised (more pressure, since they said they would give) bountiful (commendable) gift, so that the same (that is, the believers at Corinth) would be ready for even themselves to be considered a commendable gift by the other churches, instead of being considered covetous (greedy).
Paul has been with the believers at Corinth. He has seen their actions, and has written and visited them, even with a painful visit. He knows their hearts! They are not yet filled with the Holy Spirit, but are infants in Christ. Their sin nature is alive and well, and fuels their greed. Satan rubs his hands together with glee, when greediness is on display in the church! It grieves me to say that in today’s church, entire ministries are fueled by the greed of both the preachers and their followers!
Verse 6 —
Now we come to verses that are terribly misinterpreted by the greed-masters who say, Give bountifully to me and God will give you back a hundredfold! Shame on them! As the commentator for The Expositors Bible Commentary says that the enrichment spoken of here is metaphorical and does not, in any way, pertain to personal gain and self-interest.
Why? In a Spirit-filled believer, self-interest and greed no longer exist. It is a gift to give, a delight and a blessing. It is never done out of greed!
That said, Paul says, he who sows sparingly (is too greedy to give appropriately for the work of the true gospel of Jesus Christ), will reap sparingly. If you are greedy and withhold what you should give, know that God knows your heart and sees your greed. He cannot bless it!
But you will say, the prosperity preachers are rich! Their riches are not from God, but from those whom they have deceived!
Verse 7 —
Each one must do just as he has purposed (brought forth) in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful (prompt, willing) giver. Each one is responsible first to decide “in his heart” what he should give —
Acts 11:29 And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the relief of the brethren living in Judea.
Each one should give what the Lord has prompted his heart to give. Again, the Macedonians gave not just what was required, but far beyond, because they had first given their hearts to the Lord. As I have said, if you are filled with the Spirit, you will give liberally!
Then, the gift must be given cheerfully (promptly and willingly). The one who receives God’s approval (agapeo, His love) is the one who gives willingly and not reluctantly, as if all giving was painful because pressure has been exerted to give.
If you are reluctant to give and consider it to be painful, God does not love you, for your actions reveal that you are covetous, wanting to keep your money for yourself. The cure for your covetousness is to give your heart to the Lord, crying out for Him to change it by filling you with His Spirit!
Verses 8-9 —
And God is able to make all grace (spiritual blessing) abound to you! Hallelujah!
If you passionately seek His kingdom and His righteousness, that is the great grace that He gives (Matthew 6:33). When you give your heart fully to the Lord, you become a giver of grace (blessing others abundantly), for you have been abundantly blessed with the infilling of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of His kingdom in your heart! Beloved, do not miss the spiritual aspect of the riches Paul speaks about.
Paul quotes from Psalm 112:9 — The righteous scatter abroad (disperse), they give to the poor, and as a result, their righteousness endures forever. Beloved, when you are filled with the Spirit, you are filled with the eternal righteousness of God. You will thank God for His indescribable gift, and you will give toward the work, considering it a gift to give!
Verses 10-11 —
The wording of the NAS Bible misses the quality of a doxology in these verses. Paul is pronouncing a blessing over the believers at Corinth, if they obey and contribute. The King James Version (KJV) captures it best —
Corinthians 9:10 Now (may) He that ministereth seed to the sower both minister bread for food, and multiply your seed sown, and increase the fruits of your righteousness; 11 being (so you are) enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God.
God is your supply for a harvest of food and for a harvest of righteousness. When you ask Him to fill you with His Spirit, you will find that your greatest need has been met, and that you now bear a harvest — the fruit of the Holy Spirit. You will find that you are filled with His righteousness! And everyone who sees the change in you will give thanks to God! What an enrichment, to be filled with God, and rid forever of the greedy sin nature, never to rear its greedy head again! Surely, it will cause Paul and all of us and YOU thanksgiving to God!
Verse 12 —
Again I will use the King James — For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want (lack) of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God.
As I have said, many churches, including the church at Jerusalem, are poor because they are shunned. But by the gathering of this collection, their lack is met, which results in abundant thanksgiving to God!
Verse 13 —
For clarity, I will use the 1984 New International Version (NIV) Bible for this verse. Paul speaks as if the abundant gift has already been given by the believers at Corinth —
Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves (by being trustworthy in fulfilling your promise, O church at Corinth), men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
If you love Jesus, you will obey Him. If you do not love Him, you will not obey Him (John 14:23-24). You may confess that He is Lord, but if you disobey Him, your confession is empty.
But if you love Jesus, you will first obey His command to be filled with the Spirit, and then you will no longer be greedy, but generous, sharing copiously, without any self-seeking motives. You will gladly share both spiritual and natural riches with the rest of the true church, so the true gospel may continue to be spread across the earth.
Verses 14-15 —
Again, I will use the 1984 NIV — And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you (their hearts will long for you), because of the surpassing (exceeding) grace God has given you.
Exceeding grace! It is God who will give the believers at Corinth the heart to give, by cleansing their hearts of the greedy sin nature, and filling them with His Spirit and His love and His nature and His righteousness!
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! What gift? The grace given to Corinth to do what is right? No. They were shamed into it.
The indescribable gift of God is His Son, Jesus Christ, from whom we have received salvation, reconciliation! What a gift! And if we obey Jesus’ command to stay and wait for the promise of the Father, the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the other gift is given — entire sanctification, the infilling of the Holy Spirit! I cannot express the richness of this gift! I am full of thanksgiving to God!
It was a great blessing to note, from The Expositors Bible Commentary, that Paul’s exhortations were effective. He made the promised third visit to Corinth, and while there, he wrote the letter to the Romans, which contains this passage —
Romans 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.
So, beloved, give your heart to the Lord, and you will give in every way. As Jesus said in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” It is not only heaven one day, but heaven in the soul, here and now! It is indescribable!
Lord, I pray Your church give their hearts to You! Amen. So be it!