Closing the Gap – Week 45 Study Guide

By November 11, 2018 Small Group Study Guide

2 Corinthians 9:6-8, 6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

Commentary on 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

Background. Three things help us understand N.T. teaching on giving. (1) Giving was primarily to meet the needs of Christians who were vulnerable because of famine or other life-threatening situations. (2) The word for giving Paul uses is koinonia, “fellowship,” or “sharing.” (3) Paul’s vision of the church as the body of Christ shapes his teaching on giving. The blood system carries the elements each cell needs to survive and function throughout the body. Money is nothing more or less than life-bringing blood. Giving is sharing it with those in such need they could not survive or function as the church without it.

Why no mention of a tithe. The O.T. tithe was a tax paid to God, the owner of the Promised Land, and was paid in crops produced by the land. It was used to support the nation’s priests and worship system and also to help provide for the poor. The N.T. assumes a stewardship based on God’s ownership of all we have and are. There is no “rent” to pay, no temple or priesthood to support. As Christians become aware of needs—whether globally or locally—they are to give out of love.[1]

Paul taught that believers should give sacrificially and spontaneously, with spiritual motives. Paul taught that they should give freely, for God values the eagerness to give, not necessarily the amount of the gift.[2]

9:6–7. Why should the Corinthians give generously? (v. 5) Paul gave two reasons. (1) A principle holds true in both the natural and the spiritual spheres: the size of a harvest corresponds to the scope of the sowing (cf. Prov. 11:24–26). A man may enjoy all his grain by eating it, or he may “lose” some of it by sowing it and later reaping a bountiful harvest. A spiritual harvest, of course, may differ in kind from the seed sown. Material seed may reap a spiritual harvest (2 Cor. 9:9; cf. 1 Cor. 9:11). (2) Another reason for giving generously is that God loves generosity. God prizes not the size of the gift (cf. Acts 11:29; 1 Cor. 16:2), but the giver’s sincerity (not reluctantly), spontaneity (not under compulsion), and joyful willingness (a cheerful giver).

9:8. Ultimately Christians can dispense only what they have received, whether material (Acts 14:17) or spiritual (Rom. 5:17). The good work is done through God’s enabling (cf. Phil. 1:6). Regardless of how desperate one’s circumstances, a person who wants to give can do so in dependence on God (cf. Phil. 4:11–13; e.g., the widow of Zarephath, 1 Kings 17:9–16; and the Macedonians, 2 Cor. 8:1–3). Once again Paul sounded the note that man’s inability, by contrast, showcases God’s work (4:7). This verse is full of words indicating inclusiveness in God’s enabling: all grace … in all things at all times, having all that you need … in every good work. In the words “all things,” “all times,” and “all … you need,” the Greek heaps three words one after the other: panti pantote pasan. God is indeed sufficient! His “every” grace abounds so that believers can abound “in every good work.”[3]

 

Study Guide:

  1. In Terry’s intro he talked about Paul Comegys’ life and asked the question “did he die poor or rich? How would you answer that question?
  • “Christians often have a reputation of focusing on the negative.” Think about this statement, what do you tend to focus on throughout the day? How is your answer tied to what you value?
  • Terry stated: On our own we don’t value what is valuable…but when Christ enters our lives and begins to remodel our hearts…our values change (or they should)…we should grow up. Would you agree with this statement? If so, how has Christ showing up in your life changed what you value?
  1. As we look at the biblical Heart Attitude of supporting the work of River financially, do red flags go off in your mind? Why?
  • Read the passage again. What does Paul mean by saying, “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously?”
  • How does this principle of sowing and reaping hold true in gardening as well as all of life’s endeavors?
  1. What does it mean to be a cheerful giver? What is the difference between a cheerful giver and a grumpy giver? What role does the heart play in both?
  2. Terry said that Paul is actually doing us a favor when he tells us to give. How could telling us to giving be a favor?
    • Do you remember what the three benefits of giving are?
  1. When we give time, talent, and treasure we are “seeding” into the ground what God has given to us. Take some time and discus what the results are from giving?
    • Here are some important questions that need to be answered when we talk about giving:
      1. Will God make me rich if I give money?
      2. Do I have to give?
  • Why do we call this a heart attitude?

 

Application:

Our hearts follow our investments. In every relationship which God has placed you, including the church, the question should always be “If everyone participated at the level I do, then could this relationship/ministry I benefit from be sustained?” Maybe your thinking “I can’t afford to give” the testimony of Terry and that of many others has been “give, and watch what God will do.” He may or may not make you rich with money…but like Paul said, “you will be made rich in every way.”

 

[1] Richards, L. O. (1991). The Bible reader’s companion (electronic ed., p. 781). Wheaton: Victor Books.

[2] Dockery, D. S. (1998). The Pauline Letters. In D. S. Dockery (Ed.), Holman concise Bible commentary (p. 564). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Lowery, D. K. (1985). 2 Corinthians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 575). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

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