Generous Sermon Series
“You Reap What You Sow”
2 Corinthians 9:6-15
One day, a man was lost in a desert without water, but he saw an old makeshift structure. He knew he couldn’t make it much longer, so he got to the covering as fast as his worn-out legs could carry him. To his surprise, inside he found a jar of pure looking water. This jar was on the floor next to a pump.
As he reached down to pick up the jar of water, though, he noticed a sign.
Filled with relief, he walked over to the jar to quench his overbearing thirst. As he reached down to pick up the jar of water, though, he noticed a sign. The sign read, “Use this water to prime the pump. When you have gotten as much water as you need, refill the jar, and leave it for the next person who will pass this way.”
This man suddenly found himself on the horns of a dilemma because he was so thirsty that he was close to dehydration. What if he followed the directions on the sign and there was no water in the well? What if he poured out all of the water he now held in his hand and got nothing in return? Was that worth the risk to even try? The man had to make a decision to either fill himself now, or pour out what he had and take the chance that deep down there was so much more. The man made the choice to prime the pump. It was a good choice because the water flowed freely. He drank to his delight and collected enough water to take him on his journey. Before he left, he filled the jar and placed it next to the note. Under the words of the note, he wrote, “Trust me. It works!”
God Supplies the Need of the Giver (vv. 6-10)
6 The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. 9 As it is written, “He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.”10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.
(vv. 4-5) Whenever we study a passage of Scripture, it’s important to look at the passage in context. Verse 1-5 speak of the apostle Paul planning to arrive with some others and how this church (Corinth) has promised a gift for them. The gift is “to express concern of the Gentile churches for the needy Jewish churches in Judea.”
Paul says, “The point is this,” He does not want to be humiliated and embarrassed or to embarrass those coming with him, when they arrive and the church in Corinth to not have gathered the offering. Paul says, “so that it may be ready as a willing gift, not as an exaction.” He doesn’t want it to look like the offering is “wrung” from them, but that it would truly appear as a gift, ready to be given when they arrive.
(v. 6) With an agricultural principle in mind, Paul shows that the harvest the farmer has at the end of the season is directly related to the amount of seed sown at the beginning of the season. If the farmer sows a few seeds, he will reap a few plants.
You reap what you sow. “With the measure you give will be the measure that you get. In some form or another it comes back to us.” This is a biblical principle that you see again and again through the Bible. This is also a universal principle, like “the sun rises on everyone, and the rains fall for everyone in common.”
Jesus uses this principle in Matthew 7:2 “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” The idea of these passages is what you do with your life (good or bad) will come back to you in some form or another.
John Calvin said, “Whenever fleshly reason calls us back from doing good through fear and loss, we should immediately oppose it with this shield; But the Lord declares that we are sowing.”
Also, when you plant one kernel in the ground it produces multiple ears of corn, with hundreds and hundreds of kernels of corn in season. Now multiply that by acres of property, so that not only can the farmer feed his family by sowing the seed, but now he has the ability to feed others as well. The farmer trusts the soil to take the seed and multiply it. We trust God’s Word that when we seek to faithfully and cheerfully give, that our efforts will be multiplied.
The context also helps us to answer the question, “what is the harvest?” – it is not your personal finances. There are some who will say, give a seed offering to whatever ministry and they use this passage to say that you will get more back than you gave.
The harvest here is a result of the ministry of the church – we give so that a harvest of souls can be gathered at harvest time. We give to the church (like Corinth is giving to this other church) so that the gospel can go forth and people will be saved.
(v. 7) “Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion,” – Paul does not want to apply pressure; if they give while feeling under compulsion (from Paul), then their contributions will be made reluctantly and the whole purpose of the project was to show they want to help.
Giving for Paul is “an outward act expressing inward conviction rather than desire for praise or fear of censure.” Also, the church had decided to take this on as a project, so no one should have to wring, pry, cajole, etc. the people to give toward something they said they were in favor of.
“What each man ought to give must be thought out in light of his own responsibilities for the use of his money.” Giving is a spiritual disciple because you have to (or should) sit down, and evaluate all your expenses and responsibilities and putting God first, you then give the Lord. We allow the Holy Spirit to guide our decision to give whatever that amount may be.
“for God loves a cheerful giver” – God is a giver and as his followers we are to have his characteristics. We get our word hilarious from this word “cheerful.”
Now Paul moves to the reason why God would bless the cheerful giver. (v. 8) “And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” – look at how many times the word all is used here. The way God gives his grace is the opposite of “sowing sparingly.” God gives His all. “For God so loved the world that He gave his one and only Son.” John 3:16 He holds nothing back.
“The sense of the verse seems to be that if men are willing to give, God will always make it possible for them to give (having all sufficiency).” Paul is not saying that if you give, then you will always have a standard of living that will allow you to give to those in need.
Paul himself had times of poverty and wealth, Philippians 4:12 “I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” Also, the offering they are collecting is going to the poor in the Jewish church.
Jesus helps us to understand this principle when he took the small gift from an unknown little boy and miraculously fed five thousand people, and had baskets full left over (John 6:5 ff). That little boy’s offering is an example where “God is able to make all grace abound to you”
What we have does not come from within us but by the grace of God, and there will always be some kind of work that we can do. (v.8) “the term for blessing is literally “grace” (charis), which Paul employs in the sense of gracious gift. God is able to provide those material resources for your own needs, and enough to provide in abundance, that you may give to others in a manner which matches God’s abundant giving to you.” Grace (you being blessed) may abound so that good works (your ministry to others) may abound.
Also, If we show love toward another person, the “true return is not even the love of others; it is the increased capacity to love. The reward for generosity is the generous heart which rejoices in giving and seeks no return.”
(v. 9) “As it is written” – is a reference to Psalm 112:9, “God will give the man enough to have contentment in life and to enable him to be rich in good works and generous giving.” By quoting from Psalm 112 he is saying that “those who give generously to the needy should know that their charitable act is a part of that larger righteousness of God by which they themselves live and in which they shall remain forever (.v 9).”
If the Corinthian church would give generously, Paul is saying that they will see more resources in the next season, where then they will be able to give even more. The work will grow.
Our Giving Affects the Future (vv. 11-15)
11 You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. 12 For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. 13 By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. 15 Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
(v. 13) “they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ” – Giving in this passage is a picture of where God has moved in their hearts. “There the racial barrier between Greeks and Jews was very real.”
There were also leaders in the early church that said if you were not circumcised then you were not a true follower of Christ. These Judaizers “asserted that without circumcision and other requirements of the Jewish law the Christian standing of Gentiles was defective.” So here the Gentile church was giving an offering to the Jewish church and Paul is saying, God will get the glory in this love offering.
1 John 4:20-21, “If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot1 love God whom he has not seen. 21 And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.”
Paul is teaching and encouraging this church to serve and minister to another church who had a need. Paul in another place says, “faith without works is dead.” If we know there are brothers in Christ starving, without clothes, suffering, and we can do something, but choose not to, then our faith is worthless.
Verses 11-15 are pointing toward the future, there can be a change in the future. How do we change hateful and bitter attitudes between people who have differences? These two groups were incredibly different, but it was the gospel and generosity that brought them together.
Jesus taught that the reality of our Christian spirit is tested by its fruits, Matthew 7:218-0 “So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. 18 A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
If this Gentile church in Corinth wanted to show the Jewish church that their faith was just as genuine as theirs, then this collection would show it. It would be a real life depiction of the parable of the good Samaritan. Their fruit of their faith was this love offering to this church. Paul says, “the generosity of your contribution for them.” If you have a disagreement with another believer, then love them, be generous to them, and shower them with grace.
The world wants to church to fail. We are seen as hateful, hypocritical, and bigoted. We overcome these views when the world sees the working of grace within us. Paul says, “By their approval of this service (your gift offering), they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ (your changed heart)” They will glorify God because of you showing how your heart has been changed by the gospel.
Paul’s goals with this offering are going to be reached: “God will be glorified in the thanksgiving of many, and the divided Jewish and Gentile churches will abound in love to one another.”
So did they give? Were they ready when Paul and the delegation arrived? “The apostle paid a third visit to Corinth as planned (12:14; 13:1), Spending three months (the winter of 56-57 AD) in Greece (Acts 20:2,3), during which he wrote Romans (Pom 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14). Romans 15:26, 27 “For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. 27 For they were pleased to do it, . . .”
Years ago, Chinese farmers decided they would eat the good big potatoes and just use the small ones for seed. A new understanding of the laws of life came to them when, through the years during which they kept up the practice, nature reduced all their potatoes to the size of marbles!
Those farmers learned through bitter experience that they could not keep the best things of life for themselves and use the leftovers for seed. The laws of life decreed that the harvest would reflect the planting.
(v. 15) “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!” – The apostle Paul has given his life for the sake of the gospel, and now has one new church helping another new church as the gospel is spreading and new churches are developing. He got to be apart of this work, and the writing of the New Testament, because of his willingness to give of himself.
We get to be apart of what God is doing in our time, we get to be apart of gospel expanding in our day. We, like Paul should shout out, thank you God, for allowing me to be apart of your work.
Paul also concludes with a shout of thanks to God for his gift to us, His only Son, the Savior of mankind. “The divine gift that inspires all gifts” (Tasker). Do you know Him today? Are you apart of His work?
 Proverbs 22:8a
 Colin Kruse, Tyndale New Testament Commentary, 2 Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Michigan; William B. Eerdsmans Publishing Company, 1987) 165.
 Pr. 11:24-25, Gal. 6:7-9
 George Arthur Buttrick, Commentary Editor, The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 10 (Nashville, Tennessee; Abingdon Press, 1953) 376.
 Ambrosiaster, Ancient Christian Texts, Romans and 1-2 Corinthians (Downers Grove, Illinois; IVP Academic, 2009) 242.
 Philip E. Hughes, Paul’s Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, Michigan; WM.B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962) 329.
 Buttrick, 378.
 C.K. Barrett, Harper’s New Testament, A Commentary On The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (New York, New York; Harper & Row Publishers, 1973) 236.
 Archbald Thomas Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament, Volume 4 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman Publishing, 1931) 248.
 Barrett, 237.
 Clifton Allen, General Editor, The Broadman Bible Commentary, Volume 11 (Nashville, Tennessee; Broadman press, 1971) 62.
 Allen. 62.
 Victor Paul Furnish, 2 Corinthians, volume 32a (New York, New York; Doubleday, 1984) 449.
 Paul is anticipating that once the other church receives the offering that they will then pray for the church in Corinth. “The belief that the prayers of the poor were especially efficacious was present in the early church as well as in Judaism.” Furnish, 452.
 Buttrick, 379.
 James 2:14ff.
 “He drew a circle that shut me out, Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout. But Love and I had the wit to win: We drew a circle that took him in.” Edwin Marklam “Outwitted”
 John 4:9. Hughes, 339.
 Allen, 63.
 Hughes, 342.