The next section in our 2 Corinthians mini-series presented a particular challenge – because the whole section is about giving (in particular, Paul’s encouragement of the Corinthians’ gift to the famine-starved believers in Judaea). But how do you encourage giving as a good thing to do without it being an arm-twist or guilt trip? Especially when everyone in today’s financial climate is stressed about the future.
The only way is to put it into a grander perspective – and this is precisely what Paul does in 2 Corinthians 9. Not only does the Corinthian pledge to give have a knock-on effect for other Greeks (in this case the Macedonians, as shown in the first slide below), but it is also a mere microdot on the huge canvas of what I called God’s Chain Reaction of Grace:[vimeo vimeo.com/43459144 w=720]
The 5 points of the chain (as seen in 2 Cor 9:12-15) are as follows:
- The Divine Initiative: God started it all – by purposing and ultimately sending Christ. The Corinthians came to know it – in the words of 9:13 they confessed the gospel of Christ. This was his grace. His undeserved mercy in forgiving, adopting and transforming us. As we saw a couple of weeks ago, he became poor so that we could become rich.
- The Only Response: The only conceivable response to this grace is gratitude to God – in praises and adoration at the very least. Of course, this doesn’t mean our gratitude can end with prayer…
- The Practical Gift: One way that the Corinthians’ gratitude could be expressed was in their gift of generous grace to Jerusalem, to help meet the needs of the Lord’s people there. And this had lots of ripple effects. It spurred the Macedonians to give as well. Because they would know that they themselves had received generously from God.
- The Recipients’ Responses: Then how did Jerusalem respond to this grace. Well, obvious – they were grateful. To God, to the Corinthians, to the Macedonians. But it doesn’t stop there either.
- The Grace of Unity: They will then be bound in gospel unity – a remarkable demonstration that Christ binds Jewish believers and Gentile believers together. And they will give graciously and generously to them too. Do you see that in 9:14? For they will now pour out their hearts to the Corinthians in prayer to God for them. And praying for someone is the most generous and unmanipulative gift you can give them.
You can hear the whole talk here