Joyful Thanks Living - Bible study
part 8 of 10
Giving is Joy
2 Corinthians 9
2 Corinthians 9:7 (NIV 1984)
7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
How Much Should I Give?
“This verse underscores a key difference between believers living under the old covenant and those living under the new covenant. In the Malachi passage quoted previously [Mal 3:10], the word ‘tithe’ is mentioned. Believers under the old covenant lived under the law of the tithe. If they had asked, ‘How much should I give?’ the answer would have been, ‘God says that you must give back to him one-tenth of what he gives you.’ ”
“Believers living under the new covenant are no longer under law but under grace. The Corinthians were living under the new covenant [as are all Christians today]. If they, therefore, were to ask Paul, ‘How much do you expect us to give?’ his response would have been what he writes in this verse, It is a matter of each one giving ‘what he has decided in his heart to give.’ They were free to choose for themselves what amount to give.” (People’s Bible page 162)
Choosing How Much to Give
“With freedom comes responsibility. So it is in the matter of giving under the new covenant. If the Corinthians were free to choose for themselves what to give, that implied two things. For one thing, they could not ignore the responsibility which that freedom gave them. They were responsible for planning their giving. Second, they needed to be aware that this planning process would be aided by the new man living in them, but it would also be obstructed by the old Adam. The Corinthians had the responsibility of making sure that they knew who was talking and of listening to the right voice.” (People’s Bible page 162)
Sinners and Saints
As Christians on this earth we are both sinners (our old Adam) and saints (our new man – the real us). Paul discusses this at length in the book of Romans. The People’s Bible continues its comments on 2 Corinthians 9:7 by discussing how our lives as both sinner and saint affect our offerings.
Giving under Compulsion
“One way of identifying these competing voices, as Christians plan their giving, is to remember that the old Adam gives only ‘reluctantly or under compulsion.’ The word translated ‘reluctantly’ literally means ‘out of grief.’ The old Adam is marked by covetousness. It grieves him to part with money unless it is being used for a selfish end.”
“The old Adam will give to help others only ‘under compulsion.’ Our Lutheran Confessions, in Article IV of the Formula of Concord, quote this phrase. They speak of giving ‘under compulsion’ as an action ‘which is wrung from one against his will, by force or otherwise, so that he acts externally for appearance, but, nevertheless, without and against his will.’ ”
(People’s Bible page 163)
“The new man, on the other hand, is ‘a cheerful giver.’ The word translated ‘cheerful’ is found only one other time in the Bible. Paul in Romans speaks of a person with the spiritual gift of ‘showing mercy.’ If one has that gift, says Paul, then ‘let him do it cheerfully’ (12:8).”
“From this word we get the English word hilarious. The new man finds great joy and happiness in using every gift God has given for the benefit of others. The new man remembers that God himself is a cheerful giver. He didn’t even spare his own Son. Such cheerful giving on the part of God inspires the Christian to be a cheerful giver.” (People’s Bible page 163)
Living in Righteousness
“When Christians are deciding in their hearts what to give, how can they be sure they will listen to the right voice, the voice that promotes cheerful, generous, as-God-has-given-to-me giving? Luther’s answer in the Small Catechism still stands. He urges us to go back daily to our baptisms and claim the blessings anew. We do that when by ‘daily contrition and repentance,’ we drown our old Adam, with ‘its evil deeds and desires,’ and with that let the new man ‘daily arise to live before God in righteousness and purity forever.’ As the old Adam is put to death, the new man is given the opportunity to live and flourish and guide the Christian’s life, also when he decides in his heart what to give.”
(People’s Bible pages 163-164)
2 Corinthians 9:8 (NIV 1984)
8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
God of all Grace
“Note how often Paul uses the words all or every to emphasize why the Corinthians don’t have to hesitate to be generous, cheerful givers. The God of all grace will see to it that in all things and at all times the Corinthians will have all they need so they can abound in every good work.” (People’s Bible page 164)
Grace Enables Us
“With these words Paul is assuring the Corinthians that they will be able to put into practice the kind of cheerful, generous giving he has been talking about. They will be able to do this because God himself will be at work in their lives, God who ‘is able to make all grace abound to [them].’ All the riches of God’s marvelous grace, a grace that moved him to send his Son, a grace that through the gospel had brought forgiveness and faith to the Corinthians—that grace would move them to be cheerful givers.”
(People’s Bible page 164)
“God’s grace in all its rich variety would continue to ‘abound,’ literally, ‘overflow,’ in the lives of the Corinthians. It would make them certain that the God who had given them Jesus would also give them all they needed so that they could ‘abound in every good work.’ God’s abounding grace would result in abounding good works, among which would be the good work of cheerful and generous giving.” (People’s Bible page 164)
Let Us Pray:
Lord, you love the cheerful giver
Who with open heart and hand
Blesses freely, as a river
That refreshes all the land.
Grant us, then, the grace of giving
With a spirit large and true
That our life and all our living
We may consecrate to you.
Blessed by you with gifts and graces,
May we heed your Spirit’s call,
Gladly in all times and places
Give to you who gives us all.
You have bought us; now no longer
Can we claim to be our own;
Ever free and ever stronger
We shall serve you, Lord, alone. Amen.
(Christian Worship hymnal, 489 v.1+3, public domain)
For additional study read:
“The People’s Bible – 2 Corinthians” pages 140-161. (2 Corinthians 8:13 – 9:6)
Valleskey, D. J. (1992). 2 Corinthians. The People's Bible. Northwestern Publishing House.
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