Life-Study of 2 Corinthiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 9:6 Paul says, “But this: he who sows sparingly, sparingly also shall reap; and he who sows with blessings, with blessings also shall reap.” Literally, the Greek word rendered “with” means upon. The blessings here are first bountiful givings as blessings to others, and then bountiful harvests as blessings from God. It is a natural law ordained by God that if we sow sparingly, we shall also reap sparingly, but if we sow with blessings, we shall also reap with blessings.
In verse 7 Paul continues, “Each one as he has purposed in his heart, not out of sorrow or of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.” We should not be sorrowful in giving. Instead, we should be joyful. If we are sorrowful in giving, it may be better not to give anything. Furthermore, our giving should not be of necessity. The Greek word rendered necessity here is the same as that used in chapter six. It means that we are pressed into something, forced into it. To give out of necessity indicates that giving is a calamity to us. We should not give because we are forced; neither should we give if we feel that giving is a calamity. In the thought of some, giving material possessions is like suffering a calamity. Giving should certainly not be like this with us. As Paul says in this verse, God loves a cheerful giver. The Greek word translated cheerful may also be rendered hilarious or gleeful. In our giving we should be cheerful, gleeful, hilarious.
Verses 8 and 9 say, “And God is able to make all grace abound unto you, that, in everything always having all sufficiency, you may abound unto every good work; even as it is written, He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, his righteousness abides forever.” There are different kinds of grace. Titus was among the Corinthians to bring them the different graces. We today also need to have the various kinds of grace, one of which is the grace of giving.
In verses 8 and 9 there are a number of dear and precious thoughts. One such thought is that generous giving is righteousness in the eyes of both God and man. This thought is confirmed by the Lord’s word spoken on the mountain and recorded in Matthew 6. The Lord regards generous giving not only as a grace, but also as righteousness.
In verse 10 Paul goes on to say, “Now He Who bountifully supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and cause the fruits of righteousness to grow.” Here we see the source of seed: it comes from God who bountifully supplies seed to the sower and bread for food. We should not think that the wheat used to make bread comes automatically from reaping a harvest. No, it comes from God. Even though we must sow, we should not trust in our sowing. It is our duty to sow, and we should sow for this reason. However, we should not trust in what we sow. If we trust in our sowing, God may withhold the rain or allow a storm to damage the harvest. Therefore, we must see that God is the One who provides the bread. He gives us the seed for sowing and also bread from the harvest for food. Furthermore, it is He who multiplies our seed and causes the fruits of righteousness to grow.
I would like to say a further word concerning the two illustrations used by Paul in chapters eight and nine: the illustration of gathering manna and the illustration of sowing seed and reaping a harvest. Paul was not a superficial person. He knew that fellowshipping with the churches concerning the ministry to take care of the needy saints far away in Judea was a very important matter. He realized that the saints in Macedonia and Achaia were in poverty. This is indicated by his word in 8:1 and 2: “Furthermore, we make known to you, brothers, the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in much approvedness of affliction the abundance of their joy and the depth of their poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.” Here Paul speaks of the depth of poverty. This expression indicates that the economic situation in Macedonia, and no doubt in Achaia as well, was not good. The saints in Macedonia and Achaia were poor. Since this was their economic situation, how could Paul encourage them, even entreat them, to supply material things to others? This kind of giving would certainly cause them to be even more poor. Moreover, what about the saints’ future? Paul knew some of the poor saints might say, “What about my future? I have very little. If I give away part of what I have, how shall I take care of my living in the future?” Because Paul understood the situation and because he was thoughtful, he handled the matter in a very considerate way. When he fellowshipped with the believers about the material supply for the needy saints, Paul was very considerate.
It was risky for Paul to fellowship with the saints about giving and even more risky to entreat them to give. However, Paul had an assurance and a confidence within him that caused him to take the risk. In our opinion, it is rather easy to ask wealthy people to give to those in need. But it is another matter to entreat the poor, those who do not have a sufficient supply for their own living, to give of their possessions. As we have pointed out, they may wonder about their future, especially about how they will earn a living if they give of what they have. Nevertheless, because Paul knew God’s economy and understood God’s way, he had the confidence to risk encouraging the poor saints in Achaia to give to the needy ones in Judea.
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