Reposted from Pastor McKinley
(15 verses, 2:07 to read)
What I am about to READ
- St. Paul’s instructions on charitable giving
- vv. 1-5: St. Paul gives the Corinthian Christians some encouragement to make sure their charitable gift is ready when St. Paul comes to them again.
- vv. 6-15: St. Paul uses a farming metaphor to teach the Corinthians Christians how to rightly view charitable giving.
- In the opening verses of chapter 9, we see that the Corinthians had formerly promised to collect an offering to give to the Judean Christians who were in need of aid from the wider Church. This was mentioned earlier in the previous chapter. St. Paul holds up the Macedonian Christians as an example of the larger point he is going to make in the second half of this chapter.
- The Macedonians were encouraged in their giving to help the Judean Christians by the promise and gave abundantly to this effort, despite the poverty that existed among Macedonians at that time. In turn, Paul encourages the Corinthians using the generosity of the Macedonians. Is this a form of legalism? Certainly not! The preaching of the Law certainly does convict and kill, but it also gives instruction. Paul’s instruction is a call to the Corinthians to love their neighbor not in any old way, but in a way in which they begin to fulfill the law of love by serving their neighbors.
- There is a transition between Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians into a discourse on charitable giving. The ESV text puts a header after verse 5. Don’t let that stop you from reading on! Verse 5 encourages the Corinthians to make their gift a willing one, not as one done by force. This transition verse reminds us that the Law instructs us in good works, but the Gospel is the only thing that gives us the power to actually do good works. If the gift had to be exacted, the gift is not given out of love.
- Our love for one another has its source in the love God has shown to us in Christ (1 John 4:19). Paul’s citation of Psalm 112:9 is a reminder that all that we have comes from God, who opens His hand and satisfies the desire of every living thing. Because God can and does provide for all our needs of body and soul, we are free then to help our neighbors in their physical needs, even if it comes at a cost to us. God knows that we need clothing, shoes, food, drink, house, home, wife, children, money, goods, etc., and He will give them all to us. One of the ways God provides for our needs is through the generosity of others. This means that God is also providing for our neighbors in need through us. What a joy to be made partakers in God’s gracious work! St. Paul reminds us that these things overflow and spill into other areas in the kingdom of God and fosters a greater bond of love between us.
- Finally, in these last days of great distress, there may come a time when our congregations begin to falter due to lack of financial support. Perhaps your congregation is already facing that hardship. Many worry about what would happen to the Church if she lost her tax exempt status, for instance. These can become opportunities for us to put our money where our mouth is, so to speak. It is our duty as Christians to support the faithful proclamation of the Word of God. Check your Small Catechism‘s table of duties to see how the Scriptures address what hearers owe their pastors. Supporting your congregation’s ministry through offering is part of your vocation as a Baptized Christian in your given congregation. Through these things, we can help ensure that the Church will be able to continue its mission of faithfully proclaiming the Word of God and rightly administering the Sacraments according to Christ’s command. This can only be borne out of a heart that has been made new by the preaching of the Gospel.
- Prayer: Lord God, heavenly Father, we pray that You would teach us to realize that all we have comes from You. By Your gracious provision for our bodily needs, free us to support the bodily needs of those around us and the faithful proclamation of the Word and right administration of the Sacraments. In this way, enable us to fervently love you and joyfully serve our neighbors; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
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-Rev. Jordan McKinley, pastor
Trinity Lutheran Church, Vallonia, IN