Sunday, May 21, 2017
Daily reading assignment: 2 Corinthians 9-10
The city of Corinth was the most important city of ancient Greece. In the apostle Paul’s day it served as the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia. Located on a major East to West trade route, Corinth was the 4th largest city of the Roman Empire. However, like most major cities, Corinth was known for its wealth and licentious lifestyle.
Paul established the church in Corinth on his second missionary journey and his first letter to the church was both pointed and direct. The apostle rebuked a whole litany of shameful sins present in the church: Immorality; Covetousness; Idolatry; Drunkenness; Slander (1 Corinthians 5); Christians suing Christians in secular courts (1 Corinthians 6); and the sacrilegious treatment of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11) were among the sins the church had tolerated in its midst. Paul concluded his first letter to the Corinthian believers, exhorting them to take up an offering to minister to the needs of the suffering saints in Judaea.
In contrast to his first letter, the Book of 2 Corinthians is a letter of affirmation and exhortation to Christians in Corinth. The Corinthian believers heeded Paul’s admonishment concerning sin in the church and dealt with sinners in the midst. In addition to his affirmation, Paul exhorted the believers in Corinth to fulfill their promise to send a sacrificial offering to the suffering saints in Judea.
Paul used the churches of Macedonia [Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea] as a model to motivate the Corinthians to fulfill their obligation to send a generous offering. Unlike the wealthier people of Corinth, the believers of Macedonia, had given out of their poverty (2 Cor. 8:2), giving generously beyond their ability (2 Cor. 8:3)
“Sparingly” and “bountifully” are two adverbs Paul used to define attitudes towards giving. Paul writes, “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6).
A believer who gives “sparingly” is stingy, miserly and tight-fisted. Paul warns, sow sparingly and you will reap sparingly! Be a miser when you give, don’t be surprised you reap the same when you are in need. In contrast, give “bountifully” knowing generous givers are recipients of generous blessings!
The analogy Paul draws in 2 Corinthians 9:6 is from Solomon’s pictures of two farmers, one who scatters seed and another who hoards seed (Proverbs 11:24-26).
Proverbs 11:24-26 – “There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth [God rewards generosity]; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty [covetousnessness leads to poverty]. 25 The liberal soul [gives, bestows blessings] shall be made fat [satisfied]: and he that watereth shall be watered also himself [Gal. 6:7 – You reap what you sow].26 He that withholdeth corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be upon the head of him that selleth it.”
I close with three spiritual truths on giving:
1) God rewards generosity (Proverbs 11:24).
2) Covetousness leads to poverty (Proverbs 11:24).
3) A man reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7; Prov. 11:25-26): A generous soul will be content (Proverbs 11:25), but a hoarder is despised (Proverbs 11:26.
I do not know about you, but sign me up for giving and its promised rewards!
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith