6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 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. 8 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 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.” 10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. (2 Corinthians 9:6-10 NIV)
There was a time when I frequently heard this scripture on Sunday mornings as the offering meditation. It is a very appropriate scripture to think about in preparation for the passing of the offering plate. Most of the time the focus of the comments that followed was on the attitude of the giver. Whether intended or not this opened the door for the greedy and grouchy not to give. I think this focus on attitude misses the most important point in the passage.
Paul’s emphasis throughout this and the previous chapter has been on the spread of the gospel and how it might be impacted by how unbelievers see the church responding to the needs around it. I just finished reading Oneness Embraced by Tony Evans. I think he has an excellent definition of the purpose of the church that relates to this passage.
The ultimate goal of the church is to glorify God by reflecting the values of God among the people of God through letting the truth of God be the standard under which all things align. Glorifying God is our ultimate goal. Tony Evans in Oneness Embraced
Good works can glorify God. It is not necessary to do good works anonymously to have God receive the glory. It is necessary to do everything possible to ensure that those receiving the good works know that the resources which made the work possible, came from God. It is also necessary to perform the work with a glad heart and joyful attitude. This is especially true if the good work or gift is being given directly to the person in need. This is hard. It is too easy to draw attention to ourselves and the instant we do that we are drawing attention away from God.
I have known this for a long time, but my Bible and personal reading keep emphasizing the importance of giving to the poor. The quote in verse 9 probably is taken from Psalm 112:9. This psalm proclaims the blessings and prosperity that will come to the righteous. Their righteousness is illustrated by their generosity to the poor. I like the way Tony Evans describes this.
Simply stated, the principle is: Whatever you want God to do for you personally, you must be willing for Him to do through you to others. God is not looking for cul-de-sac Christians. He is looking for Christians who are willing to be a conduit of His blessing and justice to those in need. Tony Evans in Oneness Embraced
We are blessed to be a blessing and the poor should be at the top of our list. The poor may be too narrow a definition. In general God’s resources should flow from abundance to need. One of the embarrassments in the church today is that often God’s resources flow from scarcity to abundance. When the prosperity gospel is preached and gifts for the wealthy preacher are solicited as the key to financial blessing for the giver God’s resources are flowing the wrong direction. The purpose of prosperity is not personal well-being, but community well-being. This is most likely to occur when the resources God has blessed us with are flowing through us to the communities we are a part of, whether family, neighborhood, or church.