Ministry through Giving

KEY VERSE: “He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.” —II Corinthians 9:6

SELECTED SCRIPTURE: II Corinthians 9:1-8, 10-15

THERE ARE TIMES when there is a need to give of our goods to help others. Such was the case when the Apostle Paul wrote his second letter to the Corinthian Church. The brethren in Jerusalem and Judea continued to be in dire straits economically. After the crucifixion of Jesus, his small band of followers was ostracized by Judean society. Prejudice against them was so severe that they had to pool their resources in order to survive. (Acts 2:44,45; 4:34,35) Employment was difficult to obtain, so that many were in continual poverty. When a great famine occurred throughout all the world, the brethren in Judea were affected more by it than other Christians. They were sent aid from all the churches in other places, and Paul and Barnabas were used to bring their gifts to the elders at Jerusalem.—Acts 11:27-30

From this early experience, Paul became acquainted with the hardships of the brethren in Judea, and from that time forth kept them in remembrance. Later on, a conference was held in Jerusalem to settle the question of whether or not Gentile brethren had obligations to keep the Jewish Law described by Paul in Galatians 2. James, Peter, and John recognized that their work was to see to the needs of the Jewish brethren; Paul and Barnabas were to serve the Gentiles. However, Paul and Barnabas were asked to remember the poor among the Jewish converts, to which Paul replied that this “he was eager to do.”—Gal. 2:10, RSV

Paul never forgot his brethren in Judea, and wherever he went to establish ecclesias, he would tell them about these poorer brethren, and encourage the newly established groups to send gifts to help them. Apparently the church at Corinth had made a generous commitment to be used for the Judean poor, and the Apostle Paul told the churches of Macedonia—who were slow in responding to the need—of their generosity. In the interim, with all the problems in the church of Corinth, and Paul’s admonishing letter to them, there may have been some doubt that they would carry out their commitment.

So, in Paul’s second letter, he wrote that he knew of their eagerness to assist the brethren, and his confidence that there was no necessity to remind them of this need. In any event, Paul arranged for Titus, who delivered this letter to Corinth, to receive their generous gift lest later some dissension might make them reluctant to carry out their commitment. When the Macedonian brethren would come to Corinth with Paul, he did not want them to find that they had changed their minds about sending aid; it would be humiliating.

This lesson’s Key Text is a quotation from Proverbs 11:24.

It is a good lesson for the Corinthian brethren, and for us. God will reward all generosity with generosity. Those who withhold giving, will reap sparingly, even to bringing poverty. “God loves a cheerful giver.” (II Cor. 9:7) In Paul’s parting words to the elders at Ephesus he said, “I have shewed you all things, how that so laboring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”—Acts 20:35

These words of our Lord are not directly quoted in the Bible, but there is an applicable incident in Luke 14: Jesus had been invited for a meal at the home of a chief Pharisee. He gave a lesson on the rewards of generosity. Jesus said to his host, “When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbors; [rather] call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind: and thou shalt be blessed; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”—vss.14:12-14

Dawn Bible Students Association
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