2 Corinthians 9:9-15 ESV
First, here is a brief review. In the middle section of this letter, the apostle Paul has been encouraging his brothers and sisters in Christ in Corinth to complete the offering that they have promised. For a number of years Paul had dreamed and promoted the need for a great collection from the primarily Gentile churches to help the suffering and primarily Jewish churches in Judea. The church at Corinth had eagerly promised to give toward the offering, and the time has approached to pick it up and take it to the needy.
After giving various words of instruction and encouragement, Paul concludes this section of the letter by telling his friends the good outcome he expects when the gift is given. In Acts Luke doesn’t tell us about the result, but there is no real reason to think that it varied from what the apostle writes in this end to the section. The Holy Spirit gave us these words through Paul, so that we could know what the Lord is able to accomplish through his people.
Many times we give to the Lord’s work, and we do not really find out the outcome of our giving. The Holy Spirit encourages all givers through these words. He uses them to let us know that our labors for the Lord are not for nothing. So then, may these words stir us to action!
I. The spring of the result (9:9-11)
The idea is that God provides for his people and expects them to show his righteous character in giving to the poor (9:9). This is important because the message of the Bible is the story of his glory. When we live for God’s glory, we fulfill God’s purpose for us, but in doing so we discover that the Lord is at work in us.
A. God’s activity in his people (9:10).
1. God acts consistently in the old and the new creations. In this present world, the Lord provides what is necessary to produce food (seed) and the food itself (bread). We must never think of God in a Deistic way, creating the world and then forgetting it. He is both Creator and Sustainer. He also acts in the same way in the lives of his people. He created our spiritual lives and he sustains them. The Lord is with his people. The Spirit lives in God’s people to provide us with fresh supplies of grace. Though we might feel weary and battered, he reenergizes us to keep following Christ.
Apply: This ought to provide us with assurance!
2. God richly provides for the good works of his people. Continuing the agricultural imagery, we see that God supplies the seed necessary to do good works like giving. He increases our supply of seed, so that we can do more, and he enlarges our harvest. The Lord wants us to know that we are equipped to do great exploits for him.
Illustration: The Lord called Gideon a “mighty warrior (Jdg 6:12), when he seemed anything but a mighty warrior. In the same way the Lord wants us to know our true identity in Jesus Christ and live in conformity with it by faith (cf. Heb 11:32ff.)
B. God’s purpose in his generous provision for his sons and daughters (9:11).
1. In an age of self-satisfaction, we desperately need to hear this verse. God makes his children rich. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph 1:3). He will meet our needs (Ph 4:19). He gives us much more than we left to follow him (Mk 10:28-30, read this carefully). In fact, everything is ours (1 Cor 3:21-23)! But, and this is what we totally must hear, God has enriched us in order that we might be generous to others.
Apply: We all need to broaden our horizons beyond our couches and recliners. God has something for each of us to do for his praise. As Jesus told his disciples, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest” (Jn 4:35). Every good gift we have from God is an opportunity, not to please ourselves, but to advance the good news of Jesus.
2. The Lord uses his ministers in this process (“through us”). We are part of God’s means to help his people build up the body of Christ (Eph 4:11-12).
3. Generosity toward Christ’s people leads to thanksgiving to God. Now, you do not thank someone unless they have done something for you. Here, we thank God for enabling us to be givers for the benefit of others.
Apply: What is our attitude towards the rich gifts that God has provided for us? Is our way of thinking being transformed so that we see our riches as means to help others? Where in your life do you have the biggest problem in this area?
II. The service leading to the result (9:12-13)
A. Two benefits of giving to meet the real needs of others (9:12)
1. It supplies the needs of God’s people. We are doing something for the family. We should strive to recover this concept. Away with the localism and ethnic preferences of the worldly mind! Get rid of the smugness of superiority! When we give to help God’s people, we are providing for our family, which is God’s family.
2. It overflows to many expressions of thanks to God. Notice this! We become part of God’s story in a richer way as we give and others give thanks to the glory of God. The great song of praise increases in quality and quantity. More people worship. More people worship more energetically. God is glorified in Christ as more and more people trace their benefits back to the Christ’s cross, resurrection, ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Why do we love and give? It is because Christ loved us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20).
B. The kind of praise that will come (9:13)
1. They will praise the Lord for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the good news of Christ. When we turn from sin and trust in Christ, we confess or profess that he is our Lord and Savior. Then as new people in Christ, we begin to obey him. This change becomes clear to others in many ways. Here Paul is speaking of the generous actions that come from those who know the generous Lord.
Apply: Are you really converted? I’m not asking if you’re a religious or spiritual person. Let’s talk about the root of the matter. How are people around you seeing evidence of your new life in Christ? How is the Holy Spirit working in you to the aroma of Christ (2:15)? In what ways are you being transformed into Christ’s likeness with ever-increasing glory (3:18)?
2. They will praise the Lord for the generosity in sharing. Here is the reality of koinonia. True fellowship is not simply a matter of a pleasant conversation with coffee and donuts. It involves the sharing of ourselves with one another.
Apply: In our acrostic BLESS, we present the need to eat with one another. When people gather around a table together, their hearts start to open along with their mouths. Then we begin to see and comprehend the needs of each other. Do something daring! Open your heart!
III. The surpassing grace that achieves the result (9:14-15)
A. Every good work of a believer can be traced back to the grace of God (9:14; cf. Eph 2:8-10). When their gift is received, the needy believers will see the grace of God that was operating in the hearts of the Corinthians and others that gave. This would link their hearts together. When we act for the benefit of others, God uses our good works to develop unity among his people.
1. Notice the quality of the grace operating in their hearts. It is “surpassing grace”! Aha! We have said before that the Corinthian believers have been trashed many times by people with agendas to make them look bad. Yet here the Holy Spirit says that God has given them surpassing grace. Here’s some good news for all who are in Christ. If you’re in him, you have incredible surpassing, overflowing grace from God! Oh that you by faith would lay hold of what God has given you!
2. Notice the emphasis on the action of God. It is a gift from him. Follower of Jesus Christ, God has given you rich gifts! Open your eyes and enjoy the new creation. Live in the joy of the Lord every day.
B. Every praise is in the context of God’s greatest gift.
1. The identity of this gift is Jesus Christ himself (cf. 8:9). To have Christ is to have a treasure far, far richer than the whole universe. It is to have the living God in all his indescribable glory and goodness and fullness (Col 2:9-10). What kind of love is this that would give twisted rebellious people the greatest prize in the universe?
2. The praise we all should offer – There is only one thing we can do: praise, worship, and give thanks to God! Let us join in thanking God for his indescribable gift!
Pastor Dave Frampton
The faithful and spiritually profitable labors of Dave Frampton are featured here at CMC. As a Bible teacher he excels. Teachers and student alike will profit much from his labor in the God’s Word. Visit Newtown Square Baptist Church.