Christians were suffering in Jerusalem shortly after the Lord Jesus had ascended to Heaven. Paul sought to relieve their suffering by collecting money from believers as he traveled to churches on his missionary journey. However, the motive behind the giving was important to Paul. He wanted their giving to be a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation (2 Corinthians 9.5).
Generous giving is motivated by the desire to benefit someone. It is to bless them.
Grudge giving is motivated by greed. It is to take advantage of person. Here, Paul is saying “Don’t give to the church at Jerusalem because you think I’m taking advantage of you. Instead, give to benefit brothers and sisters in Christ.
The word cheerful in 2 Corinthians 9.7 is transliterated into English. The Greek in this text is pronounced hilarion. The English word we ultimately borrow from Greek is hilarious. We use the word to mean that something is extremely funny. But the idea behind the word means extreme merriment or happiness. Our giving must be motivated by a desire to bless others (generous). It must also come from a merry, happy heart not a dull, duty-bound heart. The idea is not to motivate us to stop giving because we have wrong thinking. Instead, we must give with right thinking.
If we give this way, we are giving bountifully. To give bountifully is to give with the intent of blessing others. If we do this, we shall reap blessing ourselves. Those blessings are not necessarily monetary blessings. They come in the form of God’s grace.
Psalm 84:11 says, “The Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord will give grace and glory; no good thing will He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” The Lord gives. He gives grace, glory, and good things. He doesn’t withhold from upright individuals because they demonstrate God’s righteousness for God’s glory through their own giving.
“God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9.8). The idea is that God has the ability to meet the needs of generous, cheerful givers. These givers disperse abroad, give to the poor, and their acts of giving endure (2 Corinthians 9.9). This is a quotation from the Old Testament. You find it in Psalm 112.9.
The idea is that God’s grace comes to givers. Psalm 112 is about a man who gives to needy people because He understands God is near and God has expectations of him. Yet God will remember all this giving the psalmist does. The righteousness or the acts of giving endure forever in the mind of God. Think of the words in verse 9 as something you would write on the tombstone of a generous, cheerful giver: “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” His righteousness is demonstrated in lifelong giving for the glory of God.
God supplies it all in the first place. Paul’s prayer in verse 10 is that God would supply and multiply the seed the giver has sown. Why? Not so the giver could have more and live in present luxury. It is to increase the fruits of righteousness. That is, we give and long for more opportunity to give – not to get or to hoard. You are enriched by God in order to be more generous and gracious. This will lead to people who are thankful to God for you. It “causes thanksgiving through us [other believers] to God” (2 Corinthians 9.12).
God receives glory through the demonstration of what He gave to you in the first place. Righteousness is demonstrated in you giving what God has given you. If it is God-given righteousness, then it will lead out to the glory of God. Your obedience to a life of a true Christian giver glorifies God. The Gospel is God’s gift to the world (John 3.16). When you liberally share with those in need, you deepen a prayer burden in the hearts of others for you. Other believers long for you because of the grace of God in you.
It’s all so wonderful that Paul exclaims, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable Gift!”
What is this indescribable gift? It is the process of giving for God’s glory. But God’s indescribable gift is also the gift of Jesus for our own sins. “God the Father did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8.32)