2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NKJV
From the time I was small (which some people would say could be yesterday) I’ve been just a wee bit taller than a Leprechan. I suppose that’s appropriate because my family name is Ireland. All my life I’ve been shorter than other children, other teenagers, and other adults. I am 4’11” tall. The good news is that as I’ve aged, I haven’t lost any height. Yet.
So here’s the thing about me being short.
I didn’t know I was short. I mean, I knew I was short, but I didn’t know HOW short until I took a standing photo with all of my children in 2004. I looked for the photo but it’s packed away so I will describe it. We are standing in a line and there were four adults to the right of me and four adults to the left of me…they are my children and their spouses. I’m in the middle and I look like I’m standing in a hole. But I’m not, AND I’m not slouching.
The first time in 2004 I realized how short I am I thought it was a bit of a curse, but as I age I’ve come to believe it’s not a curse…it’s a gift. I do think it’s interesting that all four of my children married tall people. It makes me smile because I have tall grandchildren.
How did I come to realize being short was a gift? It’s because children love me. Children have always loved me. I did Children’ Sermons in church for 20+ years and I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been Director of Vacation Bible School in 30 years of ministry. The children always loved standing next to me to see if they’d grown taller than me yet. My grandchildren do that now.
Scripture says we reap what we sow (which is true 100% of the time). God may not have given me great height, but He gave me the heart of a child and a heart that loves children. I GET them. They are MY people.
In 2 Corinthians 9:6-15, Paul wrote: “But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!”
God loves a cheerful giver.
Most of my life I’ve heard that verse used in the context of giving a monetary gift. It has been used a lot in reference to the offering given in church. I don’t have a problem with that.
But I’ve come to believe that while Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians can mean a monetary gift, it can also mean giving our time, giving our energy, or giving our efforts to a cause. What you give is not to be judged my man, for only God knows what He is asking you to give.
Paul begins this section by talking about reaping and sowing. In his letter to the church in Galatia he warns about reaping and sowing. Here he says if you sow sparingly you will reap sparingly and if you sow bountifully you will reap bountifully.
We do make choices…
If we give of our time, talents, and money generously, we will reap generously. Once again, that refers to whatever we give or don’t give of ourselves. According to Paul it speaks to our attitude about our sharing.
Paul is telling them it’s not just about reaping and sowing. It’s about doing everything with a cheerful attitude.
Paul adds another layer in verse 11 by telling his readers that when we give of ourselves or our resources, God abounds with thanksgiving.
In verse 13 Paul uses the words liberal sharing. The Greek word used for sharing is ‘koinania’ which is the same word used for fellowship and communion. It speaks to their sharing a common bond.
Paul wants their sharing to be such that the giver is actually sharing in the life of the receiver. In doing that, the giver would even need to sacrifice their pride in their giving.
The giver would step into the shoes of the receiver.
The giver would forsake their own life as they stand alongside the receiver.
The giver would learn what it’s like to need to receive.
In my life I’ve found it’s much easier to give than it is to receive. I can give, but I struggle to receive.
So as the giver takes on the life and characteristics of the receiver they must understand how difficult it is to receive. To be in true ‘koinania’ they must share in their suffering.
Paul concludes this section by saying they receive an, “indescribable gift!”
When we consider the kind of giving we are sharing whether it be our resources, our time, our energy, or our effort we need to look at the big picture.
If we give our time we must do it cheerfully. If we give our energy or our effort, we must have a good attitude as we serve. Once again, our attitude would require switching lives with those we serve. We would put ourselves in their shoes.
As I write this I am reminded that God has blessed me in ways that I never expected to be blessed. Education has always been one of the great desires of my life. I’m not sure why, but I’ve always wanted to learn. I wanted to go to school. I really wanted to go to college, and God made a way.
I spent a lifetime serving in churches before I went to Seminary. I couldn’t imagine why at the end of my journey God would THEN call me to go to Seminary. However, now that I have the opportunity to study, write, and share I feel like I am truly blessed! Going to Seminary turned out to be an indescribable gift for me!
When people ask me why I write a daily blog I tell them it’s because when I study and God speaks to me, I know that’s my purpose. God gave me that gift and enables me to use it.
So, I have to ask you, how can you cheerfully give? And in return what is, or what would your indescribable gift look like? As you give and however you give, what would that look like? What can you share? What is the deepest desire of your heart?
I think Paul is saying that as we make sacrifices of sharing for others, God will bless us with the deepest desires of our heart.
In the end, God really does give us what we need…so be cheerful as you give!
Today’s Spiritual Practice is: Sharing and Receiving
What is God telling you to share, and what does God have for you?
In God, Deborah