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2 Corinthians 9

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

THURSDAY APRIL 5

SCRIPTURE: 2 CORINTHIANS 9

Paul continues a topic that he brought up in the previous chapter: the offering for the suffering saints in Judea.  In chapter 8, Paul used the Macedonian church as an example to encourage the Corinthian church to participate in this important offering.  You might also remember that the Corinthian church had made an impassioned promise a year earlier to be involved. 

When we get to chapter 9, we discover where Paul had actually used the Corinthians’ promise to participate as an encouragement to the Macedonian church. Now the Macedonians had given but the Corinthians hadn’t.  So, Paul is telling the church at Corinth that they needed to have their delayed offering gathered up because Paul was coming with some Macedonians to collect the money.  And he didn’t want them, or him for that matter, to be shamed by the Corinthian response or lack thereof.

When we get to verse 6, Paul gives us some incredibly practical principles that should govern not just our giving but our lives.  The first principle is the principle of increase which is we reap in measure as we sow.  In other words, if we want a big return, we have to invest a lot.  Farmers know this.  They understand that the more seed they sow, the greater the harvest.  Bankers know this.  They understand that the more money they invest, the greater the earnings.  This is a universal principle that God built into the universe that actually applies to our giving.  But it is important that you remember this doesn’t just apply to our financial giving.  It applies to all varieties of giving whether that would be our time or talent or our dollars or anything else.

The second principle is in verse 7.  It is the principle of intent which is we reap as we sow with the right motives.  This is not a universal principle but it is very Biblical.  For example, it doesn’t matter what the farmer’s attitude is when he plants his crops.  The amount of seeds he distributes impacts the size of the harvest.  But when it comes to Christian giving, attitude is every important.  We must not be sad givers who give grudgingly or mad givers who give under compulsion but glad givers who give cheerfully from what the Lord has generously given us.

The third principle is in verses 8-11.  It is the principle of immediacy which is we reap even while we are sowing.  Again this is not a universal principle.  Farmers who plant seeds have to wait for the harvest.  But this is a very Biblical principle.  Although sometimes there is a delay between the giving and the blessing, there is just as often an immediate blessing to our giving. 

Notice the repetition of the word “all” in verse 8.  All grace, all sufficiency, all things, at all times.  In other words, the abundant blessing  from Biblical giving happens at all times.  I take that to mean as you are giving, as soon as you have given, and after you gave, God is blessing.

But that shouldn’t surprise us.  God is good like that. 

Posted by Joe Ligon with

2 Corinthians 8

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 4

SCRIPTURE: 2 CORINTHIANS 8

In this chapter, Paul gets back to an issue and a topic that he addressed in 1 Corinthians.  It has to do with the collection of money to help the impoverished believers in Judea.  Paul had asked churches outside of Israel to take up a collection that could be presented to those in Judea.

As you get into the chapter, you will discover that the Corinthian Church had actually promised a year earlier to participate in this important offering.  And then absolutely nothing happened.  They had not done one thing toward gathering up some financial help for their fellow believers in Judea.  That brings us to an important point.  The proof of our Christianity is not found in our promises but in our performance.  It is easy to talk a big game and promise to do all kinds of important “Christian stuff”.  But the proof of our character is in the fulfillment of our promise.  The Corinthian church had failed miserably in this arena.

As the chapter opens, Paul mentions the churches in Macedonia.  He points to two important characteristics of those churches.  One was they were in a severe trial of affliction.  They just weren’t suffering because of their faith.  They were suffering in extreme ways.  The other characteristic of those churches was their extreme or deep poverty.  That phrase literally means “rock bottom destitution”.  The term was used to describe a beggar who has absolutely nothing and no hope of getting anything.

But there was another characteristic given of the Macedonian churches.  That was their abundant or overflowing joy.  This is quite a conundrum.  How can persecuted, impoverished people be joyful?

There is a most unique formula at work here.  Great affliction + deep poverty + overflowing joy = abounding generosity.  In fact, verse 3 says they gave not just according to their ability but beyond their ability.  Verse 4 says there were begging for the privilege of collecting and giving this offering.  When is the last time you heard someone in church begging for the opportunity to give?  It was probably the last time I heard it and it’s been long ago enough that I can’t remember it.

In verse 7, Paul mentions that our friends, the Corinthians, excelled in spiritual gifts. But they failed in the grace category.  The ironic thing about that is spiritual gifts are a function of God’s grace to us as believers.  So, they had experienced God’s grace when they were saved.  They experienced God’s grace when they received their spiritual gifts.  But then there seemed to be a barrier when faced with the call of grace to be generous. 

Paul reminded them that Jesus was rich and yet for our sake became poor.  He gave up all that was rightfully His in heaven and on earth and throughout the universe when He took on humanity.  His entire life on this earth was lived in basic poverty – He didn’t even have a place to call home.  He did all of that for us so that we might become rich.

The riches of salvation are not necessarily monetary blessings – although God can and does bless that way.  The riches of salvation are actually more valuable than money.  And God gives to us abundantly.

As Christ followers, we are called to be generous people.  That means churches are commissioned to be generous as well.  Often times it is completely contrary to all logic and reasoning to be generous and to give abundantly.  But those are more often than not the very times God is challenging us to give so that He can prove just how good He is!

Posted by Joe Ligon with

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