In the first 5 verses, Paul wraps up his discussion from chapter 8 about the collection for the church in Jerusalem. In this conclusion, he tells the Corinthians that he has told the people in Macedonia all about their willingness to give, how the Corinthians have assured him that they will be all in when the time comes to produce their contribution to the fund. He gives them a heads up that the men are coming to collect their gift, so they won’t be surprised; so they can be prepared, in other words.
Of course, he did manage to mention how embarrassing it would be if they didn’t come through with their pledge… no pressure or anything.
After this, there is a subtle shift from this specific collection, to a more general theme on giving, one we can all benefit from.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (9:6-8)
Who can argue with any of this?
In my experience, quite a lot of people argue with this. Oh, of course they agree with every word when they’re talking about someone else, but if there is the slightest implication that it might apply to them, they become indignant: “They just want my money”, they say. If you ask me, I’d say that if this is how you feel about it, then you should keep your money; every penny of it.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! (9:12-15)
With these verses, Paul makes the whole point of the exercise clear: We are asked to give because we need to give, not because God cannot provide in other ways. As people who have so fully received God’s blessings, doesn’t it follow that we would want to be a blessing to others, particularly to our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we love? Wouldn’t we want to be a blessing to that neighbor of ours whom we love as ourselves?
Wouldn’t we want to bring glory and praise to God through our giving to fill the legitimate needs of others?
Well, if the answer is no, then by all means, keep your money; we’ll pray for you that God will open your eyes to see the blessing you are missing out on.
Yes, I think that about sums up what Paul is saying here, don’t you?