V11For it is superfluous for me to write to you about this ministry to the saints;. The word “for” with which this chapter begins shows that it is connected to the last verses of the preceding chapter. You see this also in verse 33But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, so that, as I was saying, you may be prepared; where again the brothers are mentioned of whom we read at the end of chapter 8. Paul speaks of the confidence he has in the Corinthians; he is sure that they would keep their contribution ready by the time he came to them. But note how tactfully he puts it. He tells them that it is actually superfluous for him to write to them about it. He expressly avoids a commanding tone because he is conscious of the delicateness of the subject. The act of giving should be voluntary.
V22for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the Macedonians, [namely], that Achaia has been prepared since last year, and your zeal has stirred up most of them.. Paul knew their readiness. He had boasted about them to the Macedonians. He had told them how the Corinthians began collecting money a year ago. This had a wonderful effect on the Macedonians. The Corinthian model had inspired the believers there to give what was possible and even more than what was possible. You read about this at the beginning of chapter 8. But there Paul uses the Macedonians conversely as an example for the Corinthians, because the latter had become sluggish in their collection. So you see a mutual reaction. Paul does not set the believers one against the other, but he presents them as models for one another so that one would follow the other in doing good.
It is not his intention to mobilize a contest in giving nor is it his intention to make the believers get discouraged, and think: ‘We cannot do what they do.’ He also does not specify any amount. His only intention is to set the believers as models for one another. He could have said enough negative things about the Corinthians, but he did not. He speaks to others about the good things he found in them. We must learn from Paul.
V33But I have sent the brethren, in order that our boasting about you may not be made empty in this case, so that, as I was saying, you may be prepared;. If the danger is that Paul spoke too many positive things about the Corinthians he now attempts to justify his statements. He sends the brothers to them who would see for themselves how far they fared in their collections. If they did not fare well the brothers would help them. If they kept themselves ready then in the event of Paul accompanying them it would not be necessary for him to take back his laudatory statements about them.
V44otherwise if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we—not to speak of you—will be put to shame by this confidence.. The Macedonians will accompany Paul. How would he face a situation if all the statements he made about the Corinthians proved false? No doubt, he will certainly be ashamed of his confidence and of course the Corinthians themselves would lose their standing.
V55So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead to you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, so that the same would be ready as a bountiful gift and not affected by covetousness.. You see how Paul helps them by all means to make their promises come true. He does not wait with folded arms and see them fall short and then come with his scathing comments (as we do sometimes). That is why he sent the brothers ahead to arrange beforehand the “bountiful gift”, they had “previously promised”.
Here the gift is called ‘bountiful’ or ‘generous’. This is a beautiful expression for your gift. With the word ‘generous’ you think only of the good things and never of the bad things. If giving is generous then you do not think about what you lose but about what good others receive through them. Then you will also not have the unpleasant feeling that you have been forced to part with your money.
Here it is not about the church tax which one must pay to defray the church’s cost of maintenance. No, it is about giving, the real giving. Do it not sparingly. Not because others should think high of you. You also should not get a high opinion about yourself saying: ‘How good I am.’ The Pharisees gave their alms this way. You must read in Matthew 6 to know how the Lord Jesus warned His disciples for that way of giving (Mt 6:2-42“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.3But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,4so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.). The danger of this kind of Pharisaism is in all of us.
There is a story in Acts 5:1-111But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,2and kept back [some] of the price for himself, with his wife’s full knowledge, and bringing a portion of it, he laid it at the apostles’ feet.3But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back [some] of the price of the land?4While it remained [unsold], did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God.”5And as he heard these words, Ananias fell down and breathed his last; and great fear came over all who heard of it.6The young men got up and covered him up, and after carrying him out, they buried him.7Now there elapsed an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.8And Peter responded to her, “Tell me whether you sold the land for such and such a price?” And she said, “Yes, that was the price.”9Then Peter [said] to her, “Why is it that you have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [as well].”10And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.11And great fear came over the whole church, and over all who heard of these things. which is meaningful in this regard. The first Christians were characterized by their practical love for one another. They sold their possessions and laid the money at the apostles’ feet (Acts 4:34-3734For there was not a needy person among them, for all who were owners of land or houses would sell them and bring the proceeds of the sales35and lay them at the apostles’ feet, and they would be distributed to each as any had need.36Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement),37and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.). Ananias and Sapphira did not want to stand back. They sold a piece of land for a certain amount. Let us suppose they received 5000 dollars for it. They thought that it was a little too much to give the entire amount. That’s why they gave a little less.
There is nothing wrong if they had done so. But they gave as if they gave the entire proceeds of the sale. In reality they took only say 4500 dollars to the apostles. They had no obligation to give everything. Peter says later that they could have done whatever they wanted to do with that money. But they now gave the impression to the Christians that they gave everything sacrificially even though they had put 500 dollars in their pocket. What hypocrisy!
Stop, wait a minute! Do not shout too loud. Indeed, they were hypocrites and liars. But don’t you ever project yourself better than you are? God expects from you no more than what you want to and what you can give. This is primarily true of your money, but you also can apply it to your time. You say that the Lord must decide everything for you, but do you really take Him into consideration in all that you want to do? I do not speak about people’s general weakness in practice. No, I mean the illusion that we maintain that we live a life of dedication while we know that there are things in our life which do not befit a life consecrated to the Lord.
V66Now this [I say], he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.. After this trip to Acts 5 we return to the chapter we are in. I wrote: Do not give sparingly. Why not? Because then you don’t get back much. In fact giving is compared to sowing. What would you say of a farmer who sows sparsely but expects a huge harvest? Your reaction is obvious. The farmer is not right in his mind. If you sow little you will reap little. The farmer who wants to have a rich harvest must sow with his hands full. This is nature’s simple instruction which Paul presents here. Everyone will agree with this fact and this principle applies to giving.
I wonder if you believe in this application. In a slightly different way but with the same goal God Himself says in Malachi 3 (let me quote the whole verse to make you aware of the importance, with the hope that you accept this challenge of God; I can assure you that it works): ””Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows”” (Mal 3:1010Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the LORD of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.). What a promise of God!
V77Each one [must do] just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.. You might ask for a norm for giving. How much one should give? In the Old Testament the Israelites were required to give ten percent of their income. That was the law. Christians no longer live under the law but under grace. Can we use the grace of God to give lesser than what the Israelites had to give? This is just a question. Here it is stated that you may give according as you have decided in your heart. Think about it, pray about it and then give the amount.
Do not give impulsively or triggered by emotion. You might regret it later because you acted carelessly. Do not give if you do not have a desire for it. God does not love the gifts given grudgingly. Do not give either because you laid an obligation upon yourself. Forced gifts do not fit Christian giving. Give cheerfully and joyfully. You then experience God’s love in a special way. It is written: “God loves a cheerful giver.” He loves to see His own features in you. Is He not the great Giver?
Now read 2 Corinthian 9:1-7 again.
Reflection: How do you give?