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"More Blessed to Give"

2 Corinthians 9:1-8

Wednesday AM Bible Study
October 22, 2008

The apostle Paul tells us of something that our Lord said. It isn't recorded in any of the four Gospels; but it must have been something well-known among the early believers, because Paul could call upon church leaders to 'remember' that He said it. The words attributed to our Lord are, "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20:35). You can almost imagine our Lord often serving the needs of others; and in the ear-shot of His disciples, uttering these words. "Blessed" basically means "happy". Giving made our Lord happy.

In his great theological treatment of Christian giving, Paul—who had called upon the saints to remember those words—describes the sort of things that help keep Christian giving a "blessed" experience.


Paul didn't feel it necessary to write to the Corinthians about their plan to minister to the needs of the saints (8:4). It was something that they had planned to do a year prior. But Paul begins by affirming their willingness. He even tells of how he boasted of their willingness to others; and of how the report of that willingness actually inspired "the majority" to give. (Note how he compliments the Corinthians—saying that "Achaia was ready a year ago"—thus making Corinth the stand-out city in giving of all their region.) One way to keep the blessedness in giving is to recognize and appreciate the willingness of those who give.


Paul tells the Corinthians that it was his plan to send the brethren to them in order to insure that they would have the gift ready when he came. This involved some risk—he could have insulted them. But what he was eager to protect was the boasting he had made concerning them. He didn't want those who had been inspired by the willingness of the Corinthians to be discouraged should they come and find that the Corinthians were not ready to follow-through on the thing that Paul boasted about concerning them. Another way the blessedness if giving is protected is by preparation and planning. Gifts that are thrown together in an embarrassed rush are not a joy to give; and can actually create a prevailing attitude that discourages others. By contrast, the activity of actually preparing the gift in advance—and then of presenting it in a thoughful way—is inspiring.


Another reason Paul sent the brethren in advance is to protect the sincere generosity of the Corinthians. He didn't want to come, find the Corinthians unprepared, and cause them to gather the gift in an attitude of grudging obligation (or "covetousness"). True blessing comes from a gift that is a matter of sincere generosity and not of grudging necessity.


The Bible teaches us that, when it comes to giving, those who give much reap much; and those who give little reap little (Proverbs 11:24-26; 22:9; Luke 6:38). A parallel thought is that of a farmer. He doesn't sow "little" and expect "much". He sows in proportion to his expected return. We should learn that we can never out-give God.


Paul wanted to avoid anyone feeling a resentful "obligation" to give. God does not want gifts from us that we resent giving. Each believer was to give as he or she had "purposed" to give in their own individual heart before God. This was to be done "not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver". This, too, protects the blessedness of giving; because God looks at the condition of the heart more than at the content of the gift.


Paul assures the Corinthians that their giving can be done in joy; because the God to whom they give is able to make "all grace" abound to them so that they have "all sufficiency" in "all things". In this way, they may have "abundance for every good work". One of the things that protects the joy of giving is a confident trust in the sovereignty of God. He is able to give us more, so that we are able to give more to others.

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Proverbs 19:17 says, "He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given." With His help, let's enter into the blessedness of giving that the Lord Jesus Himself enjoyed.

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