That it was a big deal for Paul is evident by the amount of “real estate” it occupies in his letter. That it should be a big deal for me is evident in that it was God-breathed. The Spirit of God moving Paul to write to the Corinthians . . . and to keep writing . . . concerning “the ministry for the saints.” God determining to preserve these practical details of an ancient time for my instruction. And while, most often, I just skim over 2Corinthians 8 and 9, for some reason (I’m thinking a Spirit influenced reason) Paul’s determination to make sure the Corinthians were fully engaged in meeting the financial needs of the saints in Jerusalem has captured my attention. And this morning I’m struck by the phrase, “your confession of the gospel of Christ.”
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(2Corinthians 9:12-15 ESV)
Those who understand grace demonstrate grace. Those who really get God’s unmerited goodness are marked by free-flowing generosity. Those who, by God’s illuminating Spirit, have some appreciation for the “inexpressible gift” revealed to them in the gospel, confess that good news every time they give willingly.
“God is able,” writes Paul, “to make all grace abound to you” (9:8a). Grace that saves. Grace that sustains. Grace that supplies. Grace that abounds . . . grace that is abundant . . . grace which exceeds measurement. The grace demonstrated in the giving of God’s Son as payment for our sin. The grace experienced when, by faith, men and women once driven by the flesh are infused with the Spirit who brings life and gives freedom. And out of that grace which abounds to us, the Father would have His children “abound in every good work” (9:8b).
To know grace is to know the gospel. And to show grace through our generosity is one way to confess the gospel.
As it is written, “He has distributed freely, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” (2Corinthians 9:9 ESV)
In that He has given, we are to be characterized as givers. In that He has distributed freely, we are to share liberally that which God has given us to steward. As His grace demonstrates His eternal righteousness, our generosity is evidence of that same righteousness which has been imputed to us through Christ’s risen life and is being formed in us through the Spirit’s sanctifying work. Our giving, our meeting the needs of others, is a demonstration of the dynamics of the gospel.
And, like the gospel, it’s not just about meeting needs of people. At its heart, it is about giving glory to God. This service, as Paul calls it, “overflows in many thanksgivings to God.” It is the Father who meets the needs of His children. And often He will do that through the family of believers. Those who have known the riches of heaven, sharing something of their riches on earth, so that the God of heaven might be praised by His people on earth.
And thus, those who have known the gospel of abundant grace, confess the gospel of abundant grace through their generosity. And that, to the praise of God who gives freely.
O to be a cheerful giver (9:7). For the benefit of others. For the sake of the gospel. For the glory of God.