to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice *
November 21, 2019 – Thursday
2 Corinthians 9:12-13 NIV
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God.
13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
This section of chapter nine, beginning with verse six, has the various titles Generosity Encouraged (NIV), The Cheerful Giver (ESV), and Hilarious Generosity (TPT). Before you completely discount The Passion Translation heading of Hilarious Generosity consider
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. NIV
6 Here’s my point. A stingy sower will reap a meager harvest, but the one who sows from a generous spirit will reap an abundant harvest. 7 Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity! TPT
Almost all translations use a cheerful giver, but when you check at the blueletterbible for the word translated as cheerful you find Strong’s Greek 2431 with the transliteration hilaros and the definition propitious or merry (“hilarious”), i.e. prompt or willing:—cheerful. It is also easy to see that our English word hilarious has the Greek word hilaros as its root.
Returning to our verses for the day, for context we should note this entire chapter is very much the same as the prior chapter where Paul is exhorting the Corinthians to help their poor brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Beginning at verse six we have the following framework for our verses for today
6 Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7 Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9 As it is written: “They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever.”
10 Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. 11 You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. NIV
Then Paul expresses his great confidence the Corinthians will give freely and generously when he writes
12 This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord’s people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. 13 Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else.
Their obedience, their cheerful obedience, their generous obedience, because of their service with their confession of the gospel of Christ others will praise God and by implication come to know Jesus as the Christ. After all Gentiles were sharing to help Jewish brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. This can only be imagined through their obedience to the gospel of Christ. Guzik adds “If a person does not have a generous heart, there is a sense in which they are not obedient to the confession of the gospel of Christ.” Pett comments that “For this ministration of generous giving will be the proof, in the eyes of all, and especially of the Jewish church, of the truth of their own profession of obedience to the Gospel of Christ, resulting in approval of them, and will thus produce the glorifying of God for what He has done in them. And it will also produce thanksgiving to God for the very benefits themselves, and the genuine fellowship that is revealed by them.”
The result of the fellowship are the following closing verses of this chapter
14 And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
All of which leads or should lead each of us to ask if we are giving cheerfully (hilariously) with great generosity? Or are we being careful to give out of our wealth with ‘no pain or difficulty’ ? Jesus had something to say about this.
41 Jesus sat down opposite the place where the offerings were put and watched the crowd putting their money into the temple treasury. Many rich people threw in large amounts. 42 But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a few cents. 43 Calling his disciples to him, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, this poor widow has put more into the treasury than all the others. 44 They all gave out of their wealth; but she, out of her poverty, put in everything—all she had to live on.” Mark 12
How much faith or trust in God does your giving reflect? Do you have great faith? Enough to give truly cheerfully and really generously? The Corinthians gave so much it deepened the faith of those who received their truly generous giving and resulted in an increased fellowship between them.
May our giving be as generous and cheerful as the giving from the Corinthians and with as much faith as the poor widow.
(to obey is better than sacrifice / obedience is better than sacrifice)
* Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord? To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. (1 Samuel 15:22)