Paul makes note of their generosity in 2 Corinthians 9 as he reminds them it’s time to send the gift along. The apostle notes their gift has inspired other churches in Macedonia to do the same. In a tactful (and somewhat humorous) way (see v. 5), Paul encourages the Corinthians to be prepared to hand it over when he comes to visit so that he can bring it to the saints in Jerusalem. “Don’t have second thoughts,” Paul seems to be saying. Holding on to what you have never produces anything more than what it already is. But for those who give bountifully, the same returns to them (v. 6). Paul also says that they should not give to look good in front of each other or because everyone else is. Rather they should give as they feel God would want them to give and take joy in doing so (v. 7) quoting Ex. 25:2 as his source. It is really God who gives you the ability to both give and receive Paul writes in verse 8 and when He scatters “seed” everyone benefits (v.9).
In verses 10 through 15 Paul states the “He who supplies seed (v. 10) to the sower and bread for food” will enable their gift to multiply and produce a harvest of thanksgiving. While the term seed originally was used only of plants, it grew to figuratively be applied to offspring. It represented both what was sown (the actual seed) and what was produced (fruit). In this passage God has not only planted the seed with their forthcoming gift, He has also produced the fruit from it (v. 11). If God is the One who supplies both the seed and harvest, then all the more reason to give freely. The word haplotes is used here in a moral sense, meaning one’s giving should not be tainted with an ulterior motive. One’s giving should be sincere, helpful and benevolent with no expectation of return. Giving this way is a diakonia (dee-a-coi-knee-a; where we get our word deacon from), a ministry or service (Ac. 11:29; Rom. 15:13; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:1, 13; 11:8; Rev. 2:19) and involves compassionate love toward the needy (v. 12). As a result of this ministry of giving, the recipients will have a reason to thank God (v. 13) and also to pray for the Corinthians noting they have been God’s vehicle of grace (v. 14).
Most importantly the “indescribable gift” of God is the foundation of all giving. Quite the tongue twister in Greek, anekdiegetos, denotes something that is hard to describe or something where there are no words to adequately express what it is. Amazingly, this is the only time this word is used in the entire New Testament! The word gift is used to describe something given which is truly gratuitous in nature. It is freely given with no expectation of return. Of course Paul is referring to Christ as this “unexplainable, completely free gift” of God. Many of us can quote John 3:16 with this in mind. But do we take the time to think about what that really means? That God would send His Son, His only Son, to take the punishment we deserved, so that we might regain the relationship we once had in the Garden with Him is quite amazing considering this gift was given without any expectation of anything in return (Rom. 5:6-11, 15-17). It is with this in mind that Paul challenges the Corinthians to give liberally. Simply put Paul is saying, “Give as liberally as Christ gave His life for you” (Phil. 2:3-8).
How do you give? Do you give begrudgingly? Do you give for recognition? Do you only give what you have to and not beyond that predetermined amount? Our giving should always be reviewed in light of what Christ gave for us. When I look back over the times I’ve received an unexpected and generous gift it reminds me of the greatest gift I’ve ever received thanks to my “Indescribable Gift”. I pray I will be found giving in the same manner as Him (Gal. 2:20; Eph. 5:1-2).
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
Week of 7/3/2016