MDB 48: 2 Cor 9

Burk Parsons

2 Corinthians 9:13-14
"By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you."

Are you obedient to the Gospel? At first glance, that may seem like an odd question. Typically, we don't speak in such terms, but the Apostle Paul did. In his letters we come across phrases similar to the one we encounter in 2 Corinthians 9:13, wherein Paul speaks of submitting to, or obeying the Gospel of Christ (e.g. Rom. 10:16; 2 Thess. 1:8). In most cases Paul speaks of those who do not obey the Gospel, however in this instance he praises the Corinthian church for their submission to their Gospel confession (Lit. "your obedience to your confession of the Gospel").

Paul's relationship with the wealth-loving, self-loving, and world-loving Corinthians has been one abounding with admonition and rebuke. Nevertheless, throughout his letters, Paul makes every effort to encourage the Corinthians in every possible way. Having already explained why he is rejoicing in their godly grief that has led to their repentance (chapter 7) and to their earnest faith and their genuine love (chapter 8), he now more fully explains the reason for his "boasting" because of their "readiness" and "zeal" in the work of the Gospel (vv. 1-3).

In obedience to their confession of the Gospel, the Corinthians, who were known throughout the world for their wealth and immorality, had given financially to support the church at Jerusalem. What's more, their gift didn't simply help the struggling church but "fully supplied" all they needed. In being obedient to the Gospel, they sought to extend a helping hand of mercy just as Christ had extended His to them. A self-sufficient people who had thought they needed nothing had come to recognize their spiritual destitution and their need for Christ who fully supplies all their needs. Perhaps taking clues from Jesus' story of the rich young ruler, they understood that for them following Christ meant giving what they had to the poor. The Corinthian church, though they had struggled in manifold ways, understood, loved, and lived the Gospel of Jesus Christ. And although the Jerusalem believers had nothing in their hands they could offer the Corinthians, they could offer their prayers to God in their behalf.

God doesn't need our money but His people often do. Living generous lives and living with a little less is much easier said than done. However, what the self-centered man finds impossible, we find possible through the Spirit who helps us in our self-centered weaknesses. We are often only concerned about our own little kingdoms rather than the kingdom of God, our own monuments to our own names rather than to the name of God. When we give let us not ask: What will this do for me? What returns will it bring--a pat on the back or a rubbing of shoulders with the ecclesiastical "elite"? How little can I give to make a good impression? How much should I give in order to get the necessary deductions? Rather, let us pray that God would help us to ask those questions that serve to advance His kingdom, not our own.