20 June, 2024

May 26 Study | Generosity

by | 20 May, 2024 | 0 comments

Unit: 2 Corinthians
Theme: Character
Lesson Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-12; 9:6-15
Supplemental Texts: Psalm 112:5-9; Matthew 6:1-4; Luke 6:38; James 2:14-17
Aim: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”

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Download a PDF of this week’s lesson material (the study by Mark Scott, the Application by David Faust, and Discovery Questions): LOOKOUT_May 26_2024.

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By Mark Scott

Seth Wilson, Ozark Christian College’s founding academic dean, said, “I shovel it [offerings] out, and God shovels it in, and God has a bigger shovel.” God provides for his children to be generous (Psalm 37:25; Philippians 4:19). Happy people typically are generous people. Many have found that they cannot afford to be stingy. 

Second Corinthians 8-9 is the largest stewardship of giving passage in the Bible. After the rich discussion about the ministry of the gospel (2:14—7:16), Paul launched into this major teaching about giving. 

The Examples of Generous Giving
2 Corinthians 8:1-12 

Paul used two examples in this text to encourage the Corinthians to be generous in their giving. One example was that of the Macedonian churches (i.e., Philippi and Thessalonica). Some people are uncomfortable with using other people’s examples for greater stewardship, but Paul seemed content to do so.  

Paul affirmed that the Macedonian churches had excelled in this grace of giving. In fact, at the heart of giving is the grace of God. For grace not only saves and equips; it also motivates. The word grace occurs four times in this text. When God gives his grace, the recipients should be gracious. The unusual part of this was that the Macedonian churches were evidently not wealthy. They were in severe trial (testing afflictions) and extreme poverty (deep poorness). 

Amid such dire circumstances, however, these churches had overflowing joy which welled up in rich generosity. They gave beyond their ability (power) and exceeded Paul’s expectations. They even pleaded (begged) for the privilege of giving—that’s different. Paul almost seemed surprised by their total commitment that went beyond just giving money.  

Another example of generous giving was Jesus himself. Verse 9 offers a classic description and explanation of the incarnation and sacrifice of Christ. Jesus was rich in glory with his Father, but due to his love, he became poor (came to earth). His poverty brought about our rich inheritance in heaven. This was at the heart of Christ’s emptying of himself spoken of in Philippians 2:5-11.  

These two examples served Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians to follow through on their commitments for the Judean saints. They had made a beginning, but now they needed to complete it. Paul leaned on them by reminding them of their other qualities (faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, and love). He pleaded with them to finish their work since they had responded positively to the initial appeal. Their gift was to be in proportion to what they had—not what they did not have.  

The Fruit of Generous Giving
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 

Giving helps in at least two ways. It helps the needy, obviously, but it also helps the giver. (Do you remember when Tevya thanked Perchik for the privilege of giving him some cheese in Fiddler on the Roof?) Paul did not lack for employing great principles for the churches in his Epistles. One would be the Law of Harvest—that we reap what we sow. Another one is in this text. If one sows sparingly one will also reap sparingly. Likewise, generosity begets generosity.  

Giving will bear its best fruit when it is not done reluctantly or under compulsion (that is, regretfully and out of a sense of duty). It is at its apex when it is done cheerfully (the English word hilarious come from this Greek word). One fruit of generous giving is how it blesses the giver. The giver is promised everything that is needed. Paul employed Psalm 112:9 as proof of his point. The poor are blessed, and the righteousness of the giver endures forever.  

God, who knows something about being generous, enables his church to be generous. Paul employed an agrarian example to make his point. God gives seed to the sower; later, the reaper harvests the crop and makes it into bread (i.e., righteousness). God inspires generosity that allows more giving to take place in the future and results in thanksgiving to God.  

Therefore, if the Corinthians will get on board with their pledge, Paul said, the Lord’s people everywhere will thank and praise God. In addition to that, the Corinthians’ obedience to this giving will demonstrate evidence of their genuine confession in the gospel. This will bear the fruit of evangelistic possibilities. How fitting that Paul ended this section with a grand doxology: “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift.” 


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