Read - 2 Corinthians 9
Message - Scott Woodburn
Why should we have a concern about the church catholic? Doesn't charity begin at home? Paul shares a proverb to convince us. The one who gives little will receive little and the one who gives much will receive much (v6). Great! We give because God promises to fill our bank accounts in return...right? Well, no. Many careers have been built on such promises but they are utterly unbiblical and wrong. God never promises to make us financially rich due to the strength of our faith or the size of our gift.
So how do we understand this passage? By understanding that God meets our generosity with blessing which makes silver and gold look like a penny in the dirt. In verse 11 Paul says that we will be enriched in every way, flowing into generosity in every way, leading to the praise of Almighty God. We do not give in order to get. Instead we give out of love of our neighbour and so that God may be glorified at home and abroad. So as you financially support the wider church the blessing that comes could well be the conversion of sinners in Afghanistan or Ardglass. I think we can agree that such blessing is worth far more than God "paying you back" with a brand new Mercedes.
This giving should never be reluctant or with an arm twisted up our backs (v7). We give willingly and cheerfully so that the cause of Christ advances. God delights in such giving and in all of this His grace abounds (v8). He has been graceful to us by the Gospel and saved us from sin (v8a). By His grace, He gives us a sufficiency "in all things at all times" (v8b). By His grace He sanctifies us as we attend to the ordinary means of grace and it is by His grace that with renewed hearts we respond to the Gospel in every good work. We do not give to receive riches. As we give, God's grace abounds, in our lives and in the lives of our brothers and sisters.
Paul proves his point by referencing Psalm 112 (v9) and Isaiah 55 (v10). The righteous man has a concern for the poor (v9) and as we give, the Lord multiplies our giving increasing the harvest of righteousness (v10). Notice again that we are not promised pounds, shillings and pence. Instead the harvest is a spiritual one rather than a selfish one. As we give we do not look for me-centred praise, rather we long for overflowing praise to God (v12b). As we give the Gospel goes forward and the needs of the saints is met (v12a). As we give God is glorified by our confession of the Gospel and the generosity that flows as a result (v13). As we give other parts of the church are thankful for us and pray for us (v14).
Do you see how there can be no room for the thinking that says "give God money and he'll make you happy, healthy and wealthy"? It has always been much bigger than our own small concerns. We give cheerfully in response to God's grace so that thanksgiving to God will abound in the nations. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift! (v15)
Q12 What special act of providence did God exercise toward man in the estate wherein he was created? When God had created man, he entered into a covenant of life with him, upon condition of perfect obedience; forbidding him to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, upon the pain of death.