Sermon on 2 Corinthians 9:10-15
Text: 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.
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. 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!
What is the greatest gift that you have ever been given? The answer will vary from one person to another. For a child, it might be the toy that they have been hinting about for months. For others, it might be a vehicle or an electronic device. The student might be thrilled if they were to receive a scholarship to the school they wanted to attend. Whatever the gift might have been, how did you feel when you received it? It was a joy that bubbled up inside you and was so evident from the smile on your face to the words of happiness that came from your mouth. This morning in our text, the apostle Paul is going to remind us of a gift that is so wonderful that it’s indescribable. In doing so, we are encouraged to say, “THANKS BE TO GOD FOR HIS INDESCRIBABLE GIFT!” It is 1. A Gift Given To Us and 2. A Gift Given Through Us.
The idea behind the word “gift” is that it is something that is given without any merit on the part of the receiver. You don’t earn a gift. Then, it’s not a gift, but wages. Your boss doesn’t give you a paycheck as a gift. They give it as an obligation for you doing your job. Rather, a gift is something that is freely given. That is the idea behind the word “grace.” It speaks of an undeserved expression of love for someone. God’s grace is the gift that has been given to us.
The first instance of God’s grace in our text is mentioned in verses 10 when it speaks of God as, “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food.” This reminds us of all the ways that God takes care of our physical needs. He provides seed for the sower. If you are going to grow anything, obviously, you need seed to plant. Where does the seed come from? It comes from God. We could expand this to include the abilities that God gives us to do our jobs. Then, there’s “bread for food.” This is the result of our labors. The fact that there is any sort of harvest is from God’s gracious hand. Again, we can expand this to all the things that God gives to us through the labors of our hands. This would include the food that nourishes our bodies to the clothes on our back to the roof over our heads and so on. We have been richly blessed. We also have God’s promise that he will continue to provide for all our needs. We are reminded of this as we read that God “will also supply and increase your store of seed.” (Verse 10) There is no reason for us to be worried because God has made this promise to you. Jesus tells us in Matthew 6:31-32, “So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” What a gift that comes from the hand of our loving God! We can face each day, knowing that God will provide for us.
Lest we think that in some way or another we have earned these things, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 5:45, “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” The fact that you and I have any of the blessings is truly a gift from God. Thanks be to God for his gift!
As wonderful as these gifts are, they pale in comparison with the greatest gift that has ever been given to us. Usually, this is the gift that we are referring to when we use the word “grace.” Paul mentions this gift in verse 14. He speaks of “The surpassing grace God has given you.” Here the word “grace” refers to God’s undeserved love in sending his Son to be our Savior. We needed his work so desperately, for we have sinned against our God time without number. For example, think about our attitudes towards the things of this world. How many times haven’t we been discontent with what we have? How many times have we worried? What about the times that we have wasted the gifts that God has given? For these and all other sins we should rightly be cast away from our God to be punished for time and eternity.
However, the grace of God comes shining in so brightly. Though none of us deserved it, Jesus came to be our Rescuer. He was sent to do what we could not, namely, live a life that was in perfect conformity with his Father’s will. Then, rather than punishing us for the sins that we have committed, Jesus stepped in and took our place. He suffered the torments of hell so that we would never have to. By his resurrection, we have the assurance that peace has been restored. As further evidence of God’s grace, the Holy Spirit entered our hearts and created a faith that receives all that Christ has done for us. We have an eternity of joy in heaven to look forward to. Indeed, we join Paul in saying, “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”
However, Paul doesn’t stop there in speaking of the gift of God. This gift from God is not only given to us. It is also given through us. Paul writes that God will “enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.” (Verse 10) This refers to the acts of the Christian that flow from hearts that are filled with thanksgiving for all that God has done for them. The more that we are reminded of all that God has done for us, the more that we want to do for him.
There are many ways that Christians can bring forth fruits of faith, where God’s gifts can be given through them. In speaking of the fact that God will continue to supply all that is needed, it says, “You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion.” (Verse 11) God gives us these gifts so that we can generously share with others.
It’s helpful for us to get some background to better understand what Paul is speaking about. There was a severe famine throughout the Roman Empire. It appears that the poor in Jerusalem were especially hard hit. Throughout Paul’s third missionary journey, he gathers funds to be taken to the Christians back in Jerusalem. This portion of Paul’s second letter deals with encouraging the Corinthians to continue to gather an offering for them. Their motivation in helping is the same as ours: “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) As we are reminded of the gift that has been given to us, we see opportunities for gifts to be given through us.
As we said, in this section, Paul is specifically speaking about the collection that is being given to help those in need in Jerusalem. Are there opportunities to use some of the physical gifts that God has given to us to help those in need? We have heard about and seen the devastation that has taken place in Florida because of Hurricane Ian. Are there ways that we can help them? One of the avenues available to us in our synod’s Christian Aid and Relief. Funds that are given to this go to help people in need both in our country and around the world. There are other charities that are available for us to help those in need. We are reminded of our Savior’s words, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40) Paul notes: “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.” (Verse 12) It’s an opportunity for us to show our love for our God by loving those around us.
There was another benefit to the offering that was being raised for the Jerusalem Christians. “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.” (Verse 13) The offering that the Corinthians and the others gathered for their brothers and sisters in the faith would show the fellowship that they had with them. Though they were separated by many miles, they had this in common: They had a common faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior. It didn’t matter their ethnicity or location. They were united in faith and this gift gave them an opportunity to show it.
This is a good reminder of one of the reasons that we support mission work, especially in the foreign fields. We who have been blessed are able to help support the gospel ministry around the world. We support those who teach and preach the word of God to them. We support their seminaries so that they can teach others. We support their buildings. This is an opportunity for us to show that we are united with them in faith. This is really no different than those early mission societies in Germany that sent over missionaries to the United States so that gospel ministry might be done there. Now, we who have been blessed with many gifts, both physically and spiritually, can be the ones through whom gifts can be given.
What result did Paul expect from the gifts given to the church in Jerusalem? “In their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you.” (Verse 14) The Jerusalem Christians would raise their voices to God, thanking him for having brought the Corinthian Christians to faith and for the expression of love that God moved them to show to them. I am sure that our brothers and sisters in the faith whom we support with our mission dollars are thankful to our God for what those mission dollars express. They express a caring. They express a common Christian faith. They express a unity that will be fully realized when we are united with those believers for all eternity. It all happened because God has given us the gift to be able to give to others. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
When it comes to gift giving, we usually want to get the perfect gift for someone. We have something in mind, and we set out to find it. Sometimes, it works out and we find that perfect gift. However, doesn’t also happen that when you set out to get that gift, you can’t find it. They are out of stock of that item. They don’t have the right size or color. They stopped making that item years ago. So, as a result, we are forced to choose a different gift. How blessed we are that God has found and given us the perfect gift, his grace. His grace shows itself in the way that he provides for us physically. It is crystal clear when we think about our salvation. God also gives you and me opportunities to be the conduits through which he gives gifts to others. What a blessing we enjoy! Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift! Amen.
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