Join us as we study through 2 Corinthians verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.

2 Corinthians 9:1-7 Bible Study For Small Groups – Give With A Cheerful Heart

Outline:

I. Making sure they are ready (1-5)
II. Giving from the heart (6-7)

I. Making sure they are ready (1-5)

Discussion Questions

  • What “ministry for the saints” is Paul referring to in verse 1?
  • So were the Corinthians ready? If they were already ready to give, why does Paul keep encouraging them?
  • What does Achaia have to do with Corinth?
  • How did the Corinthians’ zeal motivate the other churches?
  • How does Paul help them fulfill their commitment?
  • What would happen if Paul came with some others and the Corinthians had not acted on their commitment?
  • Would you communicate with others like Paul does here? Why or why not?
  • What can we learn in this passage about the importance of making and keeping promises?

Cross-References

Romans 12:11 – Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.

Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Ephesians 5:15-16 – Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.

Teaching Points

1. It is superfluous for me to write to you – Paul was confident in the Corinthians willingness to give. He recognized their generous heart. But still, he encourages them. It is never a waste to encourage people, even if we think they do not need it. “Preaching to the choir” is still necessary both for reminding and for stirring people up to that love and good deeds which they desire to do already (Hebrews 10:24-25).

2. For I know your readiness – The Corinthians had made a commitment some time before to take part in this collection. Their intention to help was already clear. Thus, Paul did not need to convince them to give. Rather he was focused on encouraging them to finish what they had started. Their “readiness” needed to be converted to action.

This is often true for all of us. It is easier to be ready or willing to do something than to actually do it. A lot of people express willingness to exercise or diet, but don’t quite get around to it. The same is true for Christian service. Many believers are willing to help, but perhaps don’t know where to start or haven’t yet been catalyzed to action. Some people need a spark to get them going.

General church wide announcements asking for volunteers often do not work as well as approaching individuals. I have found that when I approach an individual and ask them to help with a specific project, many are willing. They were ready all along, but just needed a gentle nudge through the door.

3. Your zeal has stirred up most of them – Passion is contagious. The generosity of the Macedonians could encourage the Corinthians. And likewise, the Corinthians zeal for this giving project inspired others to take part and give.

Modeling is an important Biblical concept. Jesus served as a model for His disciples.

And Paul said, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1.)

The Bible often says that people are like sheep. And one of the key characteristics of sheep is that they are good at following. It is very helpful for people to have a model, showing them how to live out the faith in everyday lives. Models are not to blindly followed. Neither should they be set up on a pedestal. But positive examples are extremely helpful for people who do not yet have experience in how to apply the Word of God to their lives.

For example, a young couple may look to a more mature Christian couple for guidance on marriage. Or young parents can gain a lot of wisdom from observing a godly family with older children.

And in this passage, setting an example of generosity can both inspire others and show them how to be a wise steward of the resources one has been entrusted with.

Exodus 35:3-7 – And the people continued to bring freewill offerings morning after morning. So all the skilled workers who were doing all the work on the sanctuary left what they were doing and said to Moses, “The people are bringing more than enough for doing the work the Lord commanded to be done.” Then Moses gave an order and they sent this word throughout the camp: “No man or woman is to make anything else as an offering for the sanctuary.” And so the people were restrained from bringing more, because what they already had was more than enough to do all the work.

One example of positive influence is the freewill offerings for the tabernacle. The people were motivated to give. So much was brought that Moses finally had to command them to stop. There was a zeal, and the zeal was increased through positive examples. As people saw their neighbors bring gifts, they too wanted to take part. As the people were united, there was a positive synergy effect.

Application: If someone asked your friend what you are zealous for, what do you think they would say? Sports? Shopping? Investment? Politics? Let us ask God to give us a heart of zeal for Him. Let us live our lives in such a way that people around us know we are zealous to serve the Lord.

4. I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty – Paul had told others about the Corinthians’ commitment to take part in this collection. At least those on his team know about it, but probably also many churches. Possibly just as Paul told the church at Corinth about the Macedonians’ generosity, he had shared with other churches about the Corinthians’ readiness to help.

It would be embarrassing for them and him if when the brothers came to collect their gift, they did not have it or changed their mind.

Once again, the main point is that they should finish what they started. And Paul was more than willing to help keep them accountable to do it, for their own good.

Application: You probably know someone who often starts things and then abandons it in the middle. God wants us to be reliable, in the little things as well as the big things. And being reliable means keeping our word and finishing what we start. Part of that is counting the cost at the beginning. Only commit to doing something if you are sure God is calling you to do it. If you are sure, then persevere. What is one area of service to God that is unfinished which you can move forward in this week? What is the next step you can take?

5. That it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction – Paul was not requiring or demanding this. It was not a tax. It was not forced. It was to be a willing gift like the freewill offerings of the Old Testament.

A freewill offering was completely voluntary. The peace offerings fell into this category. An Israelite may have felt very grateful for God’s blessings in his life. To express his gratitude, at any time he could take an offering to the temple. This was a gift, a response to God’s love.

These gifts from the heart are the most precious. Parents know this well. When a parent has to push and prod and force his child to buy a gift for someone, it is very discouraging. Meanwhile, if the recipient knows that it was coerced out of him, it is not special. The gift itself may be a reminder of the person’s very stinginess.

On the other hand, when a parent sees his child thinking of others, and voluntarily going out of his way to make or purchase a nice gift for others, it warms the heart. Such a gift, given in love, will be treasured.

God gave us His own Son voluntarily. He was not required to do so (for who could require Him?) Jesus also, gave His own life of His own accord.

John 10:11 – I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

And here is the root of the Christian life. Our belief is not merely a religion. It is not a set of rules. It is a relationship. God’s love and sacrifice should motivate us to respond in like manner. God did not program a bunch of robots to get up in the morning and say, “I love you.” How meaningful would that be?

No, He gave us a will. He gives us choices. From the beginning, He gave people a choice in the Garden of Eden. If then, we willingly (in response to His grace) give to Him it is worship. Sacrificing ourselves for others is true worship (Romans 12:1).

Application: Do you feel like going to church, reading the Bible, praying, or giving is an exaction? Do you begrudge it or do it reluctantly? If so, come back to the cross. Remember what Christ, has done for you. Meditate on what that means for your life. As you come back to the cross, your heart should warm. And you should experience renewing from the inside out, which will express itself in a greater desire for the things of God, not as a ritual, but because of your love for Him.

II. Giving from the heart (6-7)

Discussion Questions

  • What do the sowing and reaping represent in this passage?
  • What does it then mean to sow sparingly?
  • Is Paul promising riches and prosperity to the one who gives a lot? Why or why not?
  • What do other passages teach us about the prosperity gospel?
  • Is the reaping money or something else?
  • What important principles can we learn about giving in verse 7? How can you apply these to your own life?
  • What might be some symptoms or signs of reluctant giving?
  • What does cheerful giving look like?

Cross-References

Luke 6:38 – Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.”

1 Timothy 6:17-19 – As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.

Proverbs 3:27 – Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it.

Luke 12:33-34 – Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Hebrews 13:16 – Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

Teaching Points

1. Whoever sows sparingly will reap sparingly and whoever sows bountifully will reap bountifully –

The principle of sowing and reaping is found throughout Scripture. A farmer who wants a large crop should sow a lot of seed. If a farmer just sows a few seeds, he will not get much back.

Reflect: Does this verse teach that if you give a lot of money to God you will become rich? Why or why not?

Many prosperity gospel teachers take this verse out of context and cite it as a promise from God to give material wealth in return for monetary donations. But that is not what this verse means.

One only need to look at Jesus, Paul, and the disciples to see that a life spent investing in God’s kingdom is not a guarantee of riches. In fact in 2 Timothy 3:12 we learn that those “who desire to live a godly life, will be persecuted.”

So a guarantee of physical wealth here on earth is never promised to believers in the church. So then what does this mean?

We should take note that the sowing is an investment in God’s kingdom. When you sow a seed, you will receive the same type of crop that you sowed. Sow a tomato seed and reap a tomato. Sow corn and reap corn. If you invest your money in stocks or a business designed to make money, you should expect a monetary return on that investment. But giving to God’s kingdom is not an investment in a stock or a worldly business.

It is an investment in a spiritual kingdom.

John 18:36 – My kingdom is not of this world.

Giving to God is investing in building His kingdom. The goal is equipping the saints, training disciples, sharing the gospel, translating Scripture, etc. Sowing a seed in God’s kingdom brings spiritual blessings to others. When a person invests his life or money in this, then He will receive back the same type of blessing. Thus, if you give money to God’s kingdom, it will bring spiritual blessing to others, and in turn you too will reap spiritual blessings.

A person who invests little in God’s kingdom will receive little. If you spend little time studying God’s Word, you will get little in return. If you spend little time on fellowship, you will get little blessing in return. If you give little money to kingdom purposes, then you will not share in as many blessings as you could have if you gave more freely.

We cannot take our money to heaven. Naked we enter and naked we leave. Therefore the wisest investment is to send something ahead. We do this by building treasures in heaven through serving God on earth.

One day all of our works will be tested by fire.

1 Corinthians 3:13 – Each one’s work will become manifest, for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed by fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.

Works done for building God’s kingdom will remain. Investments made for Him will remain. So if you sow with the right motivation, you will reap bountiful blessings. Some blessings may come now in the form of joy and a closeness with God and fellowship the saints, and the happiness to see His kingdom growing. But the larger part will return when your works are tested on that final day.

If a person gives out of a selfish desire to get rich or impress people, then he will miss out on the greater reward. His gift will not please God who sees the heart. And his works will be burned up.

Application: Spend some time and evaluate your giving. Why do you give? Do you have the right motivation? And are you sowing a lot of seed into His kingdom, or just a little? Think about where you are investing your time, energy, and money. The wisest investors look at the longest time horizon. Our horizon is eternity. What do you need to do to make sure you are investing in eternity?

2. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart – Giving is a personal choice. It must come from the heart. Giving that is forced by others through intimidation or pressure is not giving at all. If someone comes and steals your credit card and charges it up, you would not say, “it is a gift.”

God looks at the heart. He knows if you are giving for the right reasons. He knows if you are stingy and holding back. He knows when you make a sacrifice to give, even if the amount is not a lot. He knows the battle you face in your mind as you consider how much you should give and He knows when you have victory and decide to be generous.

God sees what is done in secret and will reward. (Matthew 6:4)

3. Not reluctantly or under compulsion – Once again it comes back to the heart. The Macedonians begged for the favor of being able to give.

You have seen people who give who do so reluctantly. These people perhaps invite you out to eat, but worry and stress about how much you are going to spend. And you have seen people that truly enjoy sharing what God has given to them with others. They don’t think about the cost, but instead think about the blessing they can be to others.

Reflect: What are the symptoms if someone is a reluctant giver?

Application: Evaluate yourself in the area of giving. Confess your shortcomings to God. Ask Him to transform your heart. Ask Him to give you opportunities to give. And ask Him to give you the desire and willingness to participate freely and joyfully when these opportunities come.

4. God loves a cheerful giver – God desires us to give to Him freely because we want to. He wants our love for Him to be so great that we seek out opportunities to invest in His kingdom. And He desires that not just for His benefit. But when we open our heart that way, it changes us. It is good for us.

Reflect: What does a cheerful giver look like?

When you give cheerfully God is pleased. For believers, that is all the motivation we need.

2 Corinthians 9:8-15

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