In the part five verses of chapter 9, Paul renews his appeal to the
Corinthian saints. They had been so very forward a year before, when
the matter had been started, that he had even boasted of them to the
Macedonians, who had now out-stripped them altogether in actual
performance. Let them now really act, and act at once, so that their
contribution might be seen to be a gift of the heart, and not something
extracted from them almost as a matter of extortion. This fresh appeal
is followed from some fresh considerations calculated to back it up.
More important principles connected with the matter of giving are
brought to light.
For instance, giving is sowing, hence the laws of sowing
and reaping apply to it. If seed be scattered with a sparing hand there
is a scanty harvest: if with a bountiful hand, a bountiful harvest. It
cannot be otherwise whether in nature or in connection with the things
of God. In giving to others we are sowing grace; and the Apostle reminded them, "God is able to make all grace abound toward
you" (verse 8). Verses 10 and 11 also speak of the harvest of blessing
that will be reaped especially in things spiritual.
But the giving to be really pleasing to God must be cheerful giving. If
done grudgingly, or because one is pushed into it, there is not much
value in it in the sight of God. Every man will purpose in his heart
according to the state of his heart. If our hearts are right, and
enlarged by dwelling in the love of God, we shall give not only
bountifully but cheerfully also. We shall give after the style of God
Himself; and God loves those who are like Himself.
As we give we are sowing not only grace but righteousness also.
Psalm 112: 9 is quoted, in which the man is described who is
characterized as "good," and "upright," and "that feareth the Lord."
Such a one disperses of his substance and gives to those in need, and
his kind giving is not spoken of as grace but as righteousness that
will remain for ever. Are we accustomed to look upon giving in this
light? We have received so much from God that it is only right that we
should take the place of givers, if God has entrusted us with a supply
of either material or spiritual things. If we do not give, but rather
hoard up or expend upon ourselves and our pleasures what is given to
us, we are positively unrighteous. Let us take time to mark, learn, and
inwardly digest this fact, so that our lives may be ordered in keeping
Moreover the results of large-hearted and cheerful giving are so
very blessed. There is the supplying of "the need of the saints." This
in itself is a very good thing. Who, that has seen the comfort and joy
of some poor saint, when relief has reached them through the liberality
of their brethren, could doubt it. Beyond this, however, God is
glorified. The action "is abundant also by many thanksgivings to God."
The saint, who has been helped and relieved, gives thanks to God again
and again for the gift and those who ministered it to him. Presently
too those who gave find themselves so blessed and enlarged of God that
they begin to give thanks that they were ever privileged to give. We
have, you will remember, the very best authority for saying that, "It
is more blessed to give than to receive." And finally the poor saints,
who have nothing to give in return, do repay what is given by an
answering affection and by earnest prayer. The givers reap the blessing
which flows from the love and prayers of those whom they have helped.
What a marvellous train of happy results is attached to giving! No
wonder it is enumerated amongst the "gifts" of Romans 12, or that
elsewhere we read, "To do good and to communicate forget not." What
spiritual enlargement flows out of it! And conversely, how often is
spiritual poverty the direct result of the neglect of it! If believers
are stingy in their handling of material things, the holy government of
God will leave them poor and straightened in spiritual things.
All giving by the Christian flows from that which has been given to
him from God. Hence the Apostle cannot close his exhortation on this
theme without leading our thoughts to God's supreme gift from which all
our giving flows. It is so great a gift as to be beyond all our powers
of expression or description. We can only utter thanks for it.
God has given "His only-begotten Son." We read also of "the Holy
Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him;" and again that, "the
gift of God is eternal life." And other such-like verses there are. We
believe that here in the mind of the Spirit all these great gifts are
treated as one gift, which demands eternal thanksgiving from us.
As we add our hearty, Amen, to the thanksgiving, let us see to it
that we have such a lively sense of the greatness of the gift that we
diligently practise the grace of giving ourselves.