2 Corinthians 9:7 ~ 20191027 ~ Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org
10/27_2 Corinthians 9:7; God Is a Cheerful Giver; Audio available at: http://www.ephraimbible.org/Sermons/20191027_2cor9_7.mp3
God loves a cheerful giver. What does it mean to be a cheerful giver? What does this imply about those who don't give cheerfully (or at all)? Why does God love a cheerful giver?
Proverbs 22:8-9 [LXX]
Paul takes his ideas from Proverbs 22:8-9. In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, Proverbs 22 reads like this:
Then in verse 11 it says:
A cheerful man, even a giver God will bless. The Lord loves purity in heart, the one who is merciful to the poor, who gives his own bread to the poor. God loves a cheerful giver. God will bless a cheerful giver.
A Single Eye
Proverbs 22:8-9 in the ESV reads:
He who has a bountiful eye; literally a good eye. What does that mean? Jesus picks up this idea about eyes and money in Matthew 6
Jesus says literally 'if your eye is single' or 'simple'. Paul used the noun form of this word to describe the generosity, or literally the simplicity of the Macedonians back in 2 Corinthians 8:
As we have seen, this word translated 'generosity' is literally the word for simplicity or single-hearted devotion to the Lord. Paul uses this word again in 9:11 and 13 to describe the heart from which they give. It is simple or single. It is not divided or double minded. Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 6:
Jesus said the most important thing is:
A cheerful giver gives out of simplicity, eager to please one Master. There is no duplicity or double mindedness. The cheerful giver gives out of single-hearted devotion to Christ.
A Cheerful Giver
What does it mean to be a cheerful giver? We can learn something of what it looks like to give cheerfully, out of a single heart by looking at what Paul describes as the wrong motives. He said in verse 5 that it would be willing and not as an exaction, literally not as greed or covetousness. A greedy or covetous heart is not a cheerful heart.
He says in verse 6 that we should not sow sparingly or stingily, looking at the loss we might incur. That is not cheerful giving.
Verse 7 says that we are not to be reluctant or under compulsion; not out of grief or sorrow, not under pressure or necessity. That is not cheerful giving.
What he says positively is that it should be 'as he has determined in his heart' (9:7); out of an abundance of joy, riches of simplicity (8:2), giving themselves first to the Lord (8:5), begging for the grace and fellowship of service to the saints (8:4); a genuine love (8:8); a will and advance desire (8:10-12); out of abundance (8:14); for the glory of the Lord himself (8:19) a predisposed desire and zeal (9:2). They were making preparation (9:2-3), It was a promised blessing (9:5); it was to be upon blessings (9:6)
What does he mean in verse 6 to sow bountifully, literally 'upon blessings'? 'The one who sows upon blessings, upon blessings also will reap.' He says in verse 5 that he is sending the brothers to prepare in advance their promised in advance blessing, so that it is ready as a blessing. To bless is to speak or pronounce God's grace to others. To sow upon blessings is to sow out of a heart that has received God's blessings; a heart overflowing with God's blessings. When we have richly received and experienced God's grace, we can widely scatter God's amazing grace to others. A cheerful giver is one who liberally scatters blessings because he has lavishly experienced God's blessings.
God's Unconditional Love
God loves a cheerful giver. But what does that imply about those who are not cheerful givers? Or not givers at all? Does God not love those who are not cheerful givers? Doesn't John 3:16 say that God so loved the world? Doesn't God love everyone?
Let me put this another way. If we say that God loves the world, everyone, and cheerful givers are one subset of everyone, therefore God loves them, it makes this statement meaningless. It would be equally true to say that God loves the grudging givers, and those who give nothing at all. They are also subsets of the everyone whom God loves. Saying that God loves the cheerful giver must be saying something different than that God loves the sinful world or even than God loves all who trust in him.
You may have heard it said 'there's nothing you can do to make God love you any more than he does right now, and there's nothing you could ever do that would make God love you less.' God's love is unconditional. God's love is based on his own character, not on your performance. You didn't do anything to earn his love, and you can't do anything that would turn his love away from you. This is good news. This is grace. That God loves us not because of anything we have done or ever will do.
In this there is profound freedom; freedom from striving, freedom from performance, freedom from attempting to impress God.
We must understand grace. Before we can give we must receive. Grace upon grace. And all our giving must flow out of these multiplied blessings poured out on us.
Consequences of Not Giving Cheerfully
But the Bible also talks like this: God loves a cheerful giver.
Keep yourselves in the love of God. There is an 'if'; if we keep his commandments, then we will abide in his love. God loves a cheerful giver.
This implies that there is a way to abide and a way to not abide in his love. That he loves a cheerful giver and is grieved when his people give sparingly or grudgingly or not at all.
The puritan pastor John Owen gives us categories to help us make sense of this. He draws a distinction between union and communion. We are united with Christ by grace alone through faith alone. Nothing we can do or fail to do will change our union with Christ. We belong to him. But how we respond to him can and does affect our communion with him, our day to day fellowship with him, our enjoyment of our union with him.
Think of the marriage relationship. We took wedding vows before God and in the presence of witnesses 'to love, cherish and serve, in sickness and health, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, 'til death do us part.' I might act rudely toward my wife, and that won't change her commitment to her vows before God, but it will affect the level of intimacy we enjoy in our relationship. It doesn't change our union, but it will affect our communion.
Notice Jesus exhorts us to abide in his love for our joy, that our joy may be full. We will enjoy our relationship with God more if we walk in his ways, if we follow his commands, if our hearts are overflowing with gladness in him. We ought to pursue cheerful generosity, because cheerfulness is more enjoyable than being grudging or greedy or stingy.
God Is a Cheerful Giver
But there is a deeper, a more important reason that God loves a cheerful giver. It is simply this: God loves a cheerful giver because God is a cheerful giver. God created us in his own image, and he loves to see his own character reflected in his people.
Look to God the cheerful giver!
Every good gift is from God. God is the giver of every good. God himself is the greatest good.
God is our greatest good. And he does not withhold good from us.
He graciously gave us his own Son. He will with him pour out every spiritual blessing on us.
God is the giver. God gave his only Son, and Jesus gladly gave himself.
It was his joy to give himself up for us.
Why does our motive and attitude matter to God? Why does our cheerfulness in giving matter? Because we image him, and when we don't give cheerfully, we lie about him, we misrepresent him. God is not a stingy giver, he is not reluctant, not a grudging giver, he does not give out of compulsion or obligation, he does not sow sparingly. We could say God is lavish, excessive, prodigal. over the top, extravagant. God love a cheerful giver because God is a cheerful giver.
Pastor Rodney Zedicher ~ Ephraim Church of the Bible ~ www.ephraimbible.org