All Grace Abounding
2 Corinthians 9:1-15
Key Verse 9:8
“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
We have been taking somewhat of an in-depth look at the privilege of Offering or Giving we inherit from our Lord Jesus through the Holy Spirit whom our Lord Jesus sends to indwell every believer upon their conversion. Giving or Offering is a privilege among all the other things that are described in these 2 chapters of 2nd Corinthians, 8 & 9. As the apostle well explains it, to put it simply, Giving— or the Offering as it may be— is first expressed in Acts of Grace as enacted by the Lord God himself through the ages, and culminating through the offering and gracious sacrifice of his One and Only Son for the sins of the world (8:9). Second, the grace to Give or Offer isn’t inborn to them, but rather a gift bestowed upon the people of God [that is, the church and the body of faith] by God himself (8:1). Third and consequently, it is also Acts of Grace that must in return be enacted [and, to completion] by the church and its faithful members towards God as well as towards others. In these two chapters the apostle not only redefines offering in terms of grace instead of law, but he also sets principles through which the church and body of believers may learn to grow in the grace of giving. We have already reviewed Part I (8:1-15) and Part II (8:16-19:5), and now on to the conclusion.
In Part III (9:6-15), the Apostle continues to expound on what giving or offering is all about— and it’s all about grace. Offering or giving, he says, is a service that you do for God and for others. [Actually in the long run, it’s a service you do for your own soul since whatever you sacrifice for the Lord and his purpose you gain to yourself. (Matthew 16:25-27)] But this service isn’t like any other kind of service you do! It’s the kind of service borne out of grace. And what does that mean? Literally, and simply, it means, it’s up to you— the giving or the offering, that is! In other words, how you give and what you give is all up to you! But the Apostle, in putting it this way explains that the essence of this kind of service is not only based on grace, but also follows a principle of its own. So, (1) understand the principles well [not with your head but with your heart], (2) embrace them sincerely with your heart as gospel truth, then (3) commit your heart to live by them in worship of the Lord you Love, and you will be Gifted & blessed beyond your imaginings. For the believer who lives by these principles, there’s the assurance of the Lord’s surpassing grace— his indescribable gift. Mind you, you may never have more than what’s necessary to live from day to day. But you will still be among the wealthiest most blessed people to live, and still doing some of the greatest Acts of Grace in God’s history time and again.
Look at how the apostle defines the offering or “Giving” or Act of Grace. He first defines it in his introductory verse 1 as a service; and then he defines it again as a service in his conclusive verses 12 & 13. We will be briefly glancing through the first part (verses 1-5) [since it was covered in the last sermon] and taking a closer look at the second part (6-15).
Look at verse 1 where he tells them: “There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints.” It’s the kind of service that’s based on grace. In verses 1-5, the Apostle describes the offering, or as he calls it their— service— in many ways. It’s truly amazing that according to him, there’s no need of the offering or service to be mentioned! What he meant was that it was unnecessary for him to write to them. In other words, he did not need to mention it. And that’s one of the first descriptions here of what a true offering or service of grace is all about. It’s unnecessary even unmentionable— something that needs not be written or talked about. A service of grace is like breathing, something that comes naturally, consistently, needing no reminders. All it needs is a pledge of heart to the Lord’s grace, for when a heart and soul are ever fixed on the Lord’s grace, there is really never a need to mention this necessary and crucial even vital service that the Lord’s Kingdom work depends on in this hostile world. “It’s unnecessary for me to write to you or to remind you of or to bring up this service to the saints” because this service to the saints is founded on the Lord’s grace. (8:9)
The Apostle was confident that it was unnecessary for him to write them about the service they had pledged themselves to. And he gave them good reason for his confidence, thereby defining the very essence of what this service of grace is, or what offering is all about. In verse 1, we see that offering is like breathing to the true child of God, such that no one need tell him or her to engage in giving or in Acts of Grace. Then look at verses 2-5. The Apostle defines that service as an Eager Service, more specifically an Eagerness to help— that is, to help those who by definition are needy or helpless in their circumstances. He also defines that service as Enthusiastic service, and more specifically the kind of heart-moving Enthusiasm that’s also contagious and inspires others to do the same. The Apostle also defines the service as a gift and more specifically a generous gift, given not begrudgingly or resentfully, but a gift given in the full readiness of one’s heart. And in all these ways in which the offering is defined, the word service stands out. Especially the words “service to the saints” stands out like a beacon that ushers in a New Covenant herald for the grace of offering.
It reminds us of our Lord Jesus’ own key verse: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45) Our Lord, who is worthy of all worship and glory and honor and praise, boldly declared that his life was in service to God! And his service to us was a service laced with unending sacrifices and adorned with innocent blood. But it was a service based entirely on his one sided grace which brought us many gifts and with them life. And so, only those who take this grace to heart would be ready to make generous gift offerings back to God and to church. However, the one underlying principle here in the grace of service would be the Readiness of service. When a church or a person isn’t Ready at heart to offer or to serve in this way, no gift is worth giving and no gift is worth or receiving, for it no longer bears any value or merit. We have to think very carefully about this! Yes, it may be unnecessary to mention or to remind the saints of their Acts of Grace or Service, but their Readiness must ever precede them.
The apostle then moved on to explain to them another principle at work in the area of offering and giving which he calls service. In verse 12, he tells them: “This service that you perform”, and in verse 13, he continues about the service by which they had proven themselves. Once again he defines offering and giving in terms of service, and particularly a service that a church body and its faithful beleivers perform; and they perform this service entirely based on the grace they received from the Lord; it’s also borne of it. And this service, as we said earlier is like no other service we perform, meaning that we perform this service— or we give or offer and do our Acts of Grace— borne out of the grace of the Lord, and according to our own convictions! Look at verse 7a. “Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give.” In other words, it’s a service that the Lord has left to each person’s heart to perform according to each person’s own conscience in its faith-relationship with the Lord. There’s no doubt that Jesus’ people who are blessed by his grace need walk in his footsteps of sacrifice and service, especially in giving and offering service. That is obvious! But the service they perform in offering and gifts and tithes and giving can only be decided upon by the believer himself or herself. That’s strictly between them and the Lord and no one else’s business.
However, in setting up this magnanimous principle of service for the saints in verse 7a, the Apostle [as inspired by the Holy Spirit] also set up other principles to temper the human heart from taking its own liberties with such an incredibly generous service-offer that the Lord in his mercy has given those whom he loves and has so graciously redeemed from sin and the grave. In other words, the human heart is selfish— even the Christian heart has selfish tendencies— and tends towards its own designs and benefits more often than not. So, in verses 6-15 we have principles to remind us where that generous service offer of verse 7a had come from in the first place. It was borne out of the beautiful grace of the Lord Jesus upon which we stand. These principles also remind us of God’s word of truth upon which we build our lives. And those who remain rooted in that Grace and Truth— they are the ones who will not give in to selfishness nor to greed nor to the sinful designs of the human heart— they are the ones who will never fail to always perform their service of giving and sacrifices to honor the Lord whom they love and worship— whatever the cost! Let’s look at these verses more closely then and see what principles there are to hold in our offering services.
Read verse 6. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.” There’s a similar proverb that the whole world uses and genuinely believes, “you reap what you sow” and it’s true. If you grow wheat, you will reap wheat not corn, and if you sow evil, you will not reap good but evil. People know this, and they know this well. If you are only kind and generous to a couple of people in your life, how can you expect many people to be kind and generous towards you? It doesn’t make sense if you make a fuss that people ignore you and treat you badly if you go on ignoring people and treating them badly all the time! The principle of the sower is very true. If you’re stingy with people, you can expect them to be stingy with you. And if you’re generous with them, it really doesn’t matter if they’re generous back with you or not. Your heart is already so big that you won’t notice because your harvest will be full. The Lord has made us a promise and it’s true for whoever wants to take the Lord’s words to heart, for he said: “Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” (Luke 6:38) When dealing with God who didn’t spare his own Son in loving you, be careful what measure you’re using! If the measure you use with yourself and your honey is big and wide, but the measure you’re using with the Lord needs a magnifying glass, don’t wonder when things fall apart in your life. And even that’s not punishment; it’s simply a reminder to reconsider what you need value the most in your life; to help you rise above your selfishness! The Lord loves his people and disciplines us for our own good to lift us up to his own Measure!
There’s a principle at work here, because the measure is set high for a reason. Read verse 8. “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” The Lord who’s grace has already been more than abounding to each of us is able to make his grace abound even more. We already discussed in chapter 8 that this grace abounding is the same Act or Acts of grace that God himself bestows or gifts his people with. In other words, when the heart knows God’s abounding grace through the Lord Jesus who gave his life to save us, and that heart cherishes and lives in that grace from day to day, something marvelous happens. The Lord’s grace of giving and offering is gifted upon that heart to make that heart a generous and giving heart. That heart is gifted through the abounding grace of the Lord and the evidence is acts of grace through that person or persons in the body of Christ. But as we said, the measure that God had set is high for a reason. “God is able to make all grace abound to you.” But why? The reason is “So that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.” In other words, God gifts us that we may gift him and others back, and not just one time, but ever and always as long as we live and as long as God’s grace abounds in us and to us and through us. Isn’t that marvelous?
It’s truly amazing that the Lord gifts us that we may gift him and others back! We can then understand why his standard and measure is high. He gives in a big way that we too may give back in a big way too. But if the measure we use with the Lord remains low, no wonder we experience the Lord’s heavy hand of righteous discipline. When God’s people are afraid to offer or give, it may be that they think they won’t have enough to live on, or to serve others with. But according to the Principle of the Sower (6; & Luke 6:38), there’s nothing further from the truth. In truth that’s the devil’s lie and unbelief. If the measure one uses with the Lord remains low because of fear or unbelief, something has gone wrong in our hearts and we need to repent and put our faith in the Lord. Thank God for his hand of mercy that disciplines those he loves to turn their unbelief into faith until their measure measures high.
Read verses 6-11. “Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written: ‘He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.’ 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. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” This whole section verifies that the Lord’s intent is to make his people as generous and giving and sacrificial as the Lord himself. Why? To make them even more generous and so that their generosity— in acts of righteousness, or acts of grace and service— will result in thanksgiving and glory to God. But in order to be able to fulfill our chief purpose in the Lord, which is to glorify him and give thanks to him, and to be the cause of others to do the same [that is, that others may also glorify God and give thanks to him], God’s people need performs services of giving and offering that measure up to the glory of God. How can we do that? In these verses the Apostle exhorts, but at the same time we see them as principles as well.
In verse 6 he talks about being generous with the Lord and others rather than being sparing. In verse 7 he talks about being giving from the heart what one decided to give, but cheerfully, not reluctantly, nor forcefully [not under pressure]. In verse 10 he talks about having the faith that believes that it is God who supplies all that you own in the first place. And if you do, then you can give of what you have and you can give more and do many acts of service according to your faith and from your heart and, you will do it cheerfully and willingly and generously, and no one will have to tell you nor prod you to do it. Why? Because you believe with all your heart that it is the Lord “Who supplies the seed to the sower and the bread for food” and it is the Lord himself who gives you every thing you have in life. And because of this strong faith that you stand on, and because of the grace abounding in your heart “Having all that you need” you have no doubt that you can continue to give as the Lord continues to fill your heart and life with all that you need. And from that principle of cheerful giving because the Lord is the provider, the Apostle also promises that another principle is born and comes true: “You will about in every good work” and “You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.” In other words, the acts of service and the acts of faith you perform, the offerings you make will always bear fruit, whether you see it or not, because “His righteousness endures forever”.
Read verses 12-15. “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men 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!” The Apostle mentions another thing about what offering is. The service that the children of God do for the Lord and others when they offer or give to the church and to kingdom work is in fact their “obedience”, an “obedience” that accompanies their confession of the gospel of Christ. In other words, as much as it is a response to the grace of our Lord Jesus and an expression of our love and worship to him, it is nonetheless our sincerest form of obedience to his gospel. Simply speaking, offering giving, acts of grace service that we perform, all goes hand in hand with our confession of faith that Christ is Lord and Savior, and cannot be separated. The Apostle concluded with the words, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” May the Lord use our church community as a giving community to his honor love and glory. Let us thank him for his indescribable gift. Amen.