Hilarious Giving, Bountiful Life
Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 9:5-8, 10-15
2 Corinthians is such a practical letter! It even gives qualifications for members of finance and stewardship committees.
Based on the personal qualifications of Titus and his two companions, who would collect and distribute the generous relief offering to the poor Jerusalem church, Brian Harbour highlights the personal qualifications of those charged with handling the Lord's money: desire to serve (8:16-17), burden for lost souls (8:18), willing to administer money in a God-honoring way (8:19), diligent in their duties (8:22) and a cooperative spirit (8:23).
Financial stewardship in the church goes far beyond just good business--it is a spiritual responsibility.
Keep your promises (2 Corinthians 9:5)
The Corinthians had made a pledge ("your previously promised bountiful gift" v. 5), had begun to collect the pledges but became dilatory across a year's time (8:10) resulting in an incomplete collection. The desire to give was present (v. 2). The administrative method of ingathering was not.
Paul sent Titus and two companions (v. 3) to implement some financial structure into a church that had a serious lack of orderliness (1 Corinthians 14:40).
The Corinthians had begun well. They were an excellent example of generosity to the Macedonians who were stimulated to give a generous and sacrificial offering of their own (8:1-5). But the state of disorganization in the Corinthian church would be an embarrassment to Paul and the Corinthians if they did not complete their pledges (v. 4). In such an environment, covetousness can weasel its way in (v. 5): "I'll just give my money to something else ... or just keep it."
Antidote for covetousness (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
For those Corinthians who had become reluctant to fulfill their pledges, Paul gives a farm lesson: sow sparingly, reap sparingly; sow bountifully, reap bountifully (v. 6). Paul was clear. If you plant little seed, expect a small harvest. So go ahead and give--intentionally, voluntarily and cheerfully (v. 7). God loves a cheerful or "hilarious" giver--one filled with joy and willfulness (v. 7); one who does not need to be prodded. Such giving leads to a bountiful spirit and spiritual blessings.
Promises to reluctant givers (2 Corinthians 9:8, 10-11)
Paul answers the age-old fear: "If I give, I won't have enough left for me." God is able (v. 8) and willing (v. 10,11) to meet the needs of generous givers. This is true of individuals and churches. He will see to it needs are met (Philippians 4:19) and there is accompanying contentment (Philippians 4:11). As the song says, "Little is much when God is in it." Remember the feeding of the 5,000.
Results of bold giving (2 Corinthians 9:12-15)
When Christians give boldly, five things happen:
- The needs of others are met (v. 12a)--physical, spiritual, emotional;
- God is glorified (v. 12b)--he is recognized as the source who works through others;
- Givers are blessed ("you will be enriched"--v. 11);
- The reality of their salvation is revealed ("proof given"--v. 13); and
- Fellowship between Christians is strengthened ("they ... yearn for you"--v. 14).
The indescribable gift of Christ stimulates us to give (v. 15).
Mark Bumpus is pastor of First Baptist Church in San Angelo, Texas.
CC Image • RachelEllen on Flickr