The Generous Life
Week 4: 2 Corinthians 9:6-15
Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). A generous life is one in which we apply this principle to our relationships, words, skills, time – really to anything and everything that God has given us to work with! But what rewards should we expect as a consequence of living this way? In what way are we really more blessed when we give than when we receive? This week we will look into this aspect of the generous life. Living generously leads to greater joy for the giver, good works that address real needs, a growing capacity to receive and distribute God’s blessings, and the honor and privilege of drawing attention to the greatness of God Himself.
What is the most enjoyable Christmas or birthday gift that you can remember giving to someone else? What was rewarding to you about giving that gift?
Getting into the Text:
1. (2 Cor 9:6) This verse assumes that the reader is interested in reaping a harvest. What is the harvest in this context?
2. (2 Cor 9:7-8) Giving can often be done out of a sense of obligation or guilt. How does God feel about that kind of giving? How is the willingness and cheerfulness of the giver connected to his or her understanding of God’s ability to supply?
3. (2 Cor 9:9) Who does the “he” in this verse refer to? Paul is quoting from Psalm 112. How do the actions and subsequent blessings of the person described in Psalm 112 fit with the point Paul is trying to make in 2 Cor 9?
4. (2 Cor 9:10-14) Describe some of the rewards or consequences of generous living that appear in these verses. How do these help to answer the first question above about the meaning of harvest in this passage? Does the text indicate that material blessing is something that we should expect as a consequence of being generous?
5. (2 Cor 9:15) What is the “inexpressible gift” that Paul is referring to here? How is the theme of God’s own generosity woven throughout verses 6-15? In what sense is our generosity a way of participating in God’s generosity?
Is the giving of your time, talent, and treasure a joyful thing for you or more of a duty or obligation? Here are a few ideas for increasing the joy in your giving:
1. Give an occasional secret bonus gift that no one knows about but you and God. Jesus encouraged this in Matthew 6:3-4 as an antidote for those who give only to be seen by others. But it can also help create some spice in your giving routine. This could be a financial gift given anonymously to meet someone’s need or an act of service or encouragement that may or may not be noticed. Imagine that you and God are conspiring on a secret mission of blessing. He does this all the time and is pretty good at it. Why not give it a try?
2. Join with others to do something generous as a team. This could be your family, friends, or a small group. Identify a need (missionary, church, neighborhood, etc.) and make a plan to meet that need together. Keep 2 Cor 9:7 in mind and follow in the steps of the Corinthian church after they read this letter from Paul.
3. Spend some time thanking God for his generosity to you personally. Ask the Holy Spirit to bring items to mind and write out a list. We love because God first loved us. We forgive because we have been forgiven. And our generosity mirrors God’s generosity toward us. When we truly appreciate how God has blessed us far beyond what we deserve, joyful generosity will follow. (See Luke 19:1-10 and Acts 2:42-47 for examples of this.)