What is it that the Corintian church is best known for? Is it that they were in an advantageous position given Corinth was a major trading city on a major route to and from Rome? Was it that Paul seemed to have a close affinity with the church and wrote to them on several occasions?
I think most of us would imagine that if we were to read the letters to the church in Corinth, we would think that the thing we most remember about the Church in Corinth was that they were infected by the philosophy of the city and with that came some questionable interpersonal behaviour to say the least. That is putting it nicely. The questionable behaviour included claims of spiritual superiority over one another, suing their brothers and sisters in public, abusing the communal meal, and sexual misbehaviour. In truth a higher ethical and moral standard is not normally remembered of the Church in Corinth.
However these verses account a much more worthwhile act to remember them by. That of generosity.
In the late-40s A.D., a famine swept across Judea, and Christians in Jerusalem were in need. The leaders of the Jerusalem church requested Paul “to remember the poor” (Galatians 2:9-10; see also Acts 11:19-30). Paul responded by encouraging Christians to contribute to an offering to provide relief for Jerusalem Christians and the churches responded. In fact the Corinthian church responded twice (1 Corinthians 16:2-3) and (Romans 15:25-29) tell us about the generosity of the churches.
Later, in his letter to the church in Rome, Paul will mention this offering again, acknowledging that the churches in Macedonia and Achaia have contributed to the offering (Romans 15:25-29). —therefore acknowledging that his appeal to the Corinthian church was successful. Corinth (the city) is in Achaia (the province), so apparently Paul’s appeal to the Corinthian church was successful.
Sow bountifully and reap bountifully
6 Remember this: he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly. He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly, or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver.
I am not a gardener…I do tomato plants but I don’t really spend much time with them even if I was the one who got them in the first place. Which you can take as a NO it is never me who gets them. For me growing stuff just takes so so so very very very long. But although I don’t do proper reaping and sowing even I understand the fact that if you don’t sow you just are not going to reap and although it is amazing at the amount of tomatoes you get from one plant, your reaping is always proportional to how sparsely you sow. I think that makes sense doesn’t it.
And in these first few verses Paul alludes to Proverbs 11:24-26, which says:
24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
25 A generous person will prosper;
whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.
All of this, and by my own observations, is obvious for those of you are gardeners. The person who measures seed too sparingly will likely not get much back. Stingy doesn’t grow enough of anything. And wishes to be known as stingy?
That principle holds in other areas as well. The employee who watches the clock and gives only minimum effort is not likely to be selected for promotion. Those who have no time for others will find others have no time for them. I am afraid to say that includes our own children.
And “Pheidomenos” is the word used and it means more than “sparingly”. It speaks of holding back—using restraint—being careful—measuring by the teaspoon instead of by the gallon—calculating by inches instead of miles.
Now restraint can be good or bad, depending on how it is applied. It is a good idea to apply criticism sparingly—and angry words. It often helps to exercise restraint with money. When the prodigal son spent wastefully, he soon found himself eating pig slop and humble pie (Luke 15:11-24).
However the prodigal was selfish in his unrestraint. He did not use his wealth for the benefit of others but for his own gratification. Not using what the father had given him for good but for, well you know the implied use thereof.
But there are times when, finding an especially wonderful pearl, we should go and sell all that we have so that we might buy it (Matthew 13:45-46). There are times when we should throw caution to the wind—times when we should really extend ourselves. Go out on a limb. Keep in mind that we are not likely to reap bountifully if we sow sparingly.
“He who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully”
“He who sows bountifully (Greek: eulogia) will also reap bountifully” (v. 6b). Now Paul states the reverse principle—that the person who gives generously is likely to receive generosity in return. In the verses that follow, Paul will speak of God’s generosity—and God’s inclination is to bless those who are in need and to those who are like Him, generous to others.
Eulogia – Also called antidoron, holy bread. Eastern Church. blessed bread given to the congregation during vespers or at the end of the liturgy.
The Greek word eulogia combines two words, eu (good) and logos (word). Literally, it means good word, but it came to mean blessing. The idea, then, is that the person who dispenses blessings will receive blessings.
No it does not mean that!
What we must be careful of here is talking about the blessing as being monetary. Yes I can attest to God’s provision beyond my expectations and I have the firm belief that “the cattle on a thousand hills” belong to Him. What we need is not what we wish for and the blessing of God comes in many forms and always what we, or others, actually need.
The church in Corinth was thinking in pounds, shillings and pence (ask your grandparents) and so their objections to Paul were along those lines. “ We can’t afford to give so generously”. Paul counters that with, if they give generously, they can expect to receive generous blessings in return.
It would then be sensible to ask then “what blessings?” Now that is harder to pin down, because hindsight is a wonderful thing. It is not always front and centre but when we look back we see what the blessings are flowing from our own generosity. But one thing that is an immediate blessing is in the actual giving in the first place.
• WE GET IT a blessing- From the giving and from the response. What is the most treasured possession that any of us have is often not the most expensive, but the most thoughtful… if for you it’s the most expensive then..hmmm you might want to check again.
You often hear from those who have been burgled say things like “ it’s not the cost but the sentimental value of an object that hurts the most. Things that cannot be replaced because they have been given by/acquired from a loved one.
And of course Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35)—That may well run against the world’s view but Jesus said it so… Giving does just feel better. I can remember some of my childhood and adolescence, when I had little money to spend on Christmas presents. However, I still remember with pleasure of giving something that I could ill afford and was received with a great deal of joy. And what I gave may not have been needed or wanted particularly but I can remember other occasions when I was able to buy an inexpensive present—but one that was exactly right. Those occasions took place long ago, but I still find pleasure in remembering giving those gifts. I can’t claim to be an especially generous person, but the moments that have given me the greatest pleasure are those generous moments. The face of someone when they open the gift up and well you know what it’s like. A blessing from giving.
• AND WHO WANTS TO BE SCROOGE – A blessing of love. For another thing, people love generous people, so generous people will have more friends than stingy people. I don’t know if you saw the film “For all the money in the world” GETTY’s Grandson.
And what you find is that some of those friends will find ways to do something nice for the generous person. So a double blessing is that we gain friends and those friends are challenged to be more generous because of it.
• IT MAKES GOD HAPPY – To see His generosity in His children is a blessing to God. Has He is generous and as He gives us all we require, seeing us expand and go out on a limb in our generosity blesses God.
Seeing our faith in Him revealed in how much we are prepared to give out to others delights God. In our giving He sees us becoming more and more like Him. And so how could God not bless those who no matter what continue to bless and be a blessing to others.
And we should never feel sorrow and grief in giving
“Let each man give according as he has determined in his heart; not grudgingly (Greek: ek lupe), or under compulsion” (Greek: ek anagke) (v. 7a; see also Philemon 14; Romans 12:8). Paul earlier mentioned that the Macedonian churches gave generously and “of their own accord” (8:3) in spite of their poverty. Now he asks these more prosperous Corinthian Christians to do likewise.
The phrase Greek ek lupe means “out of grief or sorrow.” The phrase ek anagke means “out of necessity or compulsion.” Paul is telling these Corinthians not to feel sorrowful when they pull out their wallet—not to shed a tear when they part with their money—not to do the right thing only because they feel “under the gun.”
As we heard earlier, generosity has the potential to bring great and long-lasting joy. How sad it would be if these Corinthian Christians were to feel sorrow instead of joy as a result of their contribution.
Earlier Matthew, Jesus commanded people to love their enemies and to bless those who cursed them—in other words, to act with extreme generosity—not so that they might reap a reward, but so that they might become more like their Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:43-48).
And there it is again to become more like God. Generosity is a trait of God that we can so easily excuse ourselves from and sometimes make excuses for NOT being as much as we can be. Doing it out of sorrow is not how God does it so why should we? We will reap blessings and even if we do not immediately see them the promise from Jesus is they are there. And even so becoming like God has got to be the prime blessing of all. Doesn’t it.
And if you want any more proof “God loves a cheerful sinner” and the word used by Paul is HILAROS
“for God loves a cheerful (Greek: hilaros) giver” (v. 7b).
While the word hilaros might sound a bit like hilarious, it means cheerful or joyful. It is easy to be a cheerful giver, when that giving comes from the heart and “not grudgingly, or under compulsion” It produces great joy in the heart of the giver.
Don’t we all love a cheerful giver! Don’t we love cheerful people, even when they aren’t giving away money! When we encounter people with a smile on their face and a song in their heart, their joy is contagious. Their joy becomes our joy.
And the joyful person’s gift need not be large to capture our hearts. We are more inclined to love a child who gives his/her last nickel than a wealthy person who gives a larger gift, but one that involves no sacrifice.
The blessing we give in our cheerful, joyful giving is more than we can imagine and is that just what God does for us. Shall we be more like Him?
Let’s pray together
Generous Father we praise you for all that you
and will do for us
We pray the same
for our loved ones
For our town
For our country
For the world
We pray that your generosity will be
Sorry for when we have
And not responded to your generosity to us
Holy spirit work on our
Our how we might bless others
…and therefore be more like Jesus