The Joy of Reciprocal Sharing.

Grace bookends this passage in 2 Corinthians. Those who are overwhelmed with grace are compelled to share their resources. God is the centerpiece of today's passage, 2 Corinthians 9:8-15. He gives to us first; we realize many benefits from His giving.

The word "sufficiency" in verse 8 was commonly used in the world of Stoic philosophy to discuss self-sufficiency. Paul uses the word with a spiritual meaning to say that all sufficiency is sourced in God. We are dependent on God to show us how to use what He gives us. The words "good deed" highlights how sharing our excess puts on display the gift of faith God granted to us. God's people never give out of manipulation or coercion; they want to share to spread the Gospel through an avenue they trust.

Verse 9 is a quote from Psalm 112 showing the eternal source and nature of giving.

Verse 10 speaks of a "harvest of righteousness" that results from sharing. Many places throughout Scripture show that God's influence multiplies small things. Sharing our resources influences how others worship and their ability to help others in turn. Our giving is never to be evaluated by its quantity but its quality. As one author describes the Corinthians' gift, "such seed as God has supplied they had sown in liberality, knowing that He who is the Lord of the annual miracle of the harvest will take what is in man’s eyes a ludicrously inadequate quantity and multiply and increase it until it becomes a full blessing to great multitudes." As we give, God will keep filling us with the ability to continue.

Verses 11-13 erupt in praise to God. Glory and thanks are given to Him by Paul, the Jerusalem church, and all other believers involved in this gift. The words "fully supply" promise that the giver will not only go away full, but with a superabundance. Our abundantly-able God will share with us the ability to do good deeds by sharing with others for Gospel purposes, not to grow our individual wealth. The church is eager to share when they know a need, but they have to know each other well enough to be aware of needs that arise. They never worry about meeting the needs, because God is able.

Romans 15 tells us that the Corinthian church did complete their gift. The thanks of the Jerusalem believers was given on several levels: they gave thanks for the physical resources, but also for deeper spiritual reasons. They previously had qualms about Gentile salvation and probably had further concerns when they heard about the state of the Corinthian church. Now they knew that the Corinthians were right with God and growing again. The gift showed the operation of grace, which was a great encouragement. Ethnicity had threatened to divide these first-century Christians; but Jesus and His apostles made clear that racial divides are the result of sin, and Jesus takes those out of the way (Ephesians 2:11-16, John 4:1-42). They also would have been encouraged that these many churches were following their leadership, autonomously yet interdependently.

Verse 14 shows the spiritual fruit of giving in the recipients. Their love increased for the other churches because they could see the grace of Christ operating in them. They prayed for them and looked forward to the opportunity to share back in the future. We don't have to worry about needs being cared for when our sharing is about Gospel intentionality.

Many things are called "beyond description," but there actually are no words to describe what God did for us in Christ. Verse 15 is not hyperbole.

Application Points

  • What is the purpose behind your giving? Is it to enable the spread of the Gospel? This is the sharing that God promises to enable.
  • Are you eager to share when you know a need, or do you worry about your own provision? Meditate on God's ability in this passage.
  • A church family must know each other well enough to be aware of needs that arise. Does someone know when you are in need? Do you know when others are in need?
  • Is there any division in your heart toward another group of believers that would prevent your sharing if they were in need? For what reasons? What would Jesus have you do with this?
  • If you are a parent, do you teach your kids to give to God's mission? How do you do this in your family, or how can you start?
  • No believer ever has too much debt, too many bills, or any excuse that is too great for God's ability to work in you to share for Gospel purposes. Are you using an excuse? As we learn to share bountifully, we can look forward to hearing our Lord call us "faithful servant" when our life is done.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Timothy 6:6, James 2:14-26 – Sharing is tied to our faith and eternal purpose.
  • Isaiah 55:10-11, Matthew 14:13-21, Luke 21:1-4 – The multiplication of small things.
  • Hosea 10:12 – A harvest of righteousness.
  • Psalm 37:25 – God provides.