Thursday, May 09, 2019

2019.05.09 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 9

Questions for Littles: What does the apostle say that he doesn’t even really need to write about (2 Corinthians 9:1)? About what has he boasted to the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 9:2a)? Whom has their zeal stirred up (verse 2b)? Why has he sent the brethren (2 Corinthians 9:3)? When would the apostle like for the Corinthians to have their part of the gift ready (2 Corinthians 9:4-5)? Of what Proverbs 11:24 principle does he remind them in 2 Corinthians 9:6? How much does he tell each to give (2 Corinthians 9:7a)? To which two ways of giving does he assume this will be opposite (verse 7b)? Which way of giving should be the result (verse 7c)? Who loves that kind of giver? What about what we need—who will supply that (2 Corinthians 9:8)? How often? How much sufficiency? In what situations? For what purpose? What does Psalm 112 say that god-fearing man does (2 Corinthians 9:9)? Who is the One who enables him to do this? For what kinds of people does the Lord supply and multiply what they need (2 Corinthians 9:10)? What does the apostle say is God’s reason for richly supplying the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:11)? What does he repeatedly say abounds back to God (verse 11, 2 Corinthians 9:122 Corinthians 9:13)? And what do the recipients of the gift end up doing for the givers of it (2 Corinthians 9:14)? What gift created these connections and makes all of this giving and praying and thanking and praising possible (2 Corinthians 9:15)?
I think that most of us who profess Christ would genuinely like to be people in whose actions and lives the glory of Jesus is seen and known. However, we imagine to ourselves that it requires some heroic effort that is just out of our reach.

That’s not the picture given in our epistle passage this week. Rather, the Scripture tells us that God has already abundantly supplied us, and He will continue to abundantly supply us. We have only to be generous with whatever He has given us, and follow His law.

Now, that last part is important. The text describes this as the fruit of “righteousness”—a word and idea that can’t just be defined as what people think is right, but only as what God Himself says is right. And here, as in other places, God prioritizes the needs of the saints in the supplying of material neediness. Did they have no poor in Corinth? It was a major city, with major sin; of course they did! But it was the saints in Judea who were the aim of “every good work.” And other parts of the Scripture, such as 1 Timothy 5 and the requirement to care for one’s own house, must direct the amount and target of our sacrificial giving.

We can see the ultimate reason why this is: the purpose of this giving is “thanksgiving to God (2 Corinthians 9:11)… many thanksgivings to God (2 Corinthians 9:12)… they glorify God (2 Corinthians 9:13).”

Here is both a reason that such giving is primarily to believers (only they know the true God in Jesus Christ, so that their thanksgiving abounds readily and properly), and also a reason that giving to unbelievers must always always be drowned in gospel announcement of who Jesus is and what Jesus has done (not just a compulsory word or two—for, how else will they connect it to the indescribable gift?)!

It is actually God’s gift to us in Christ that all that we have and all that we are can genuinely belong to Jesus—that we can act in every moment as if it belongs to Jesus and use every possession as if it belongs to Jesus. We don’t deserve to live such lives of worship unto Him. And this is a glorious fellowship beyond what we deserve to have with one another. But even these are just side benefits to the great and indescribable gift—Jesus Himself.
What part does thanksgiving have in your life? Who sacrificially gives of himself for you, and how/when do you pray for him/her? What time/possessions could you really be giving?
Suggested songs: ARP112 “O Praise the Lord” or TPH187 “I Belong to Jesus”

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