2 Corinthians 9:11-15
11 You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12 for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13 Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
While assuring the Corinthian Christians that their giving is voluntary (2 Cor 9:5, 7), Paul stresses that as they do good work so shall they be rewarded. The agricultural image of sowing and reaping is drawn from Jewish wisdom tradition (see Job 4:8; Prov 11:26; Sir 7:3; cf. Gal 6:7-9) and emphasizes God’s enabling grace. God’s provision of every kind of grace (or “every benefit”) allows the Corinthians to help others through their good works (9:8).
Paul recalls Isaiah 55:10 to make the claim that God will not only provide for the material needs of the Corinthians, God will also increase spiritual benefits (i.e., righteousness) to those who invest in the poor of Jerusalem. God is responsible for multiplying both the seed for sowing and the increase of the harvest.
The extended section on the Jerusalem collection ends with a reminder that Corinthian participation in the relief fund will result in thanksgiving – not to those who contribute, but to God. In 1st-century Greco-Roman society, people usually donated financial gifts for the purpose of receiving public praise for their contribution. Paul challenges these cultural assumptions by insisting it is God, not human gift givers, who will receive thanksgiving for the Corinthian’s generosity. That said, the Corinthians will be blessed through the knowledge that their giving will graciously and eternally overflow into the lives of countless others. Their generosity will also lead to a greater spiritual connection between the church in Corinth and the church in Jerusalem, all for the glory of God. -Adapted from the CEB Study Bible, NT p. 347.
Questions about the Scripture
1. Verse 11 assures the Corinthians that they will be enriched. Who is the source of their enrichment? Paul stresses that their enrichment will be “in every way”. What are some of the ways that they could be enriched? Discuss.
2. Paul teaches that the purpose of this multifaceted enrichment is for their “great generosity.” The implication is that God blesses people so that they can be generous and bless others. How does this teaching challenge us in our age of easy credit and consumerism?
3. In verse 12, Paul stresses the personal impact of their great generosity – it supplies the needs of the saints (God’s people), the poor of Jerusalem. James, the leader of the church there, likely gives a boots on the ground perspective on the Jerusalem situation as he writes in another New Testament letter that pure religion cares “for orphans and widows in their distress” (Jas 1:27). If a church is truly invested in ministry with the poor and marginalized today, what are some of the likely outcomes from this Biblical obedience?
4. Verse 12b reminds the Corinthians that their ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints (God’s people), but also “overflows.’ What might his overflow of gratitude refer to? Discuss some of the ripple effects of generosity, whether in the 1st or 21st Century.
Community & Personal Action Items
Over the course of this week together, let’s challenge ourselves to do one (or more) of the following actions:
1. Commit. Is practicing “great generosity” a high priority where your finances are concerned? To what level of giving is God calling you? Think and pray about these potentially difficult questions as your household considers its financial commitment for 2019. After offering yourself to God in prayer and reflection, make the financial commitment He is calling you to this year.
2. Bless Others. Many people are marginalized in today’s society, and Christ calls us as His followers to be involved in serving those who need justice. Consider joining one of FUMC’s Austin Street teams who serve our homeless friends in Dallas on Saturday mornings. You will experience immense blessing as you prepare food, travel to the shelter, and connect with folks in need. This is a family-friendly opportunity, so the kiddos can get involved too! Contact Martha Hagan mhagan@fumcCoppell.org
3. Remember. Recite and memorize the following verse this week. Then discuss its meaning and application with your family, friends, or small group.
MEMORY VERSE: 1 John 3:16 (NRSV) – 16 We know love by this that he laid down his life for us—and we ought to lay down our lives for one another.