“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, ‘He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever.’ ” 2 Corinthians 9:8-9
The apostle Paul, in exhorting the church in Corinth to follow through on their “previously promised bountiful gift” (2 Cor. 9:5), quotes from the context of Psalm 112, in particular, a portion of verse nine.
The complete verse of Psalm 112:9 reads, “He has given freely to the poor; his righteousness endures forever; his horn will be exalted in honor.” (NAS) If you go back and read Psalm 112 in its entirety, you’ll notice it is a description of a righteous man who fears (reveres properly) the LORD, delights in His commandments, and trusts in Him. One of the principal characteristics of a righteous man (or woman) is not only that he/she is gracious and lends (vs. 5), but one who gives freely to those truly impoverished. The gift that Paul was seeking the Corinthians to follow through upon was one that was going to those in need abroad, particularly to those in Judea. The saints in Judea (Rom. 15:26) were a part of the house of God and an opportunity had been presented for the Corinthians, as it had been for the brethren in Achaia, to “do good…especially to those who are of the household of the faith.” (Gal. 6:10). One of the “fruits” of righteousness then is the voluntary offerings of a “cheerful giver” for those outside their own local assemblies. That is the context (2 Cor. 9:5-9) of which that inspired passage is penned by the apostle Paul. The rich heritage of the Restoration Movement includes the fierce defense of the New Testament pattern of local autonomy among the assemblies, casting aside the non-Biblical manmade ecclesiastical hierarchies found in denominationalism. However, there can be a tendency among individual congregations to focus upon material needs of the poor in their own congregations while forsaking the pattern given in the New Testament of concern for our poorer brethren in other places in the world. Even when money can be tight, as in our current worldwide economic malaise, the example is offered to us of the churches in Macedonia. “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord, begging us with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” (2 Cor. 8:1-5) You know that little quote we like to throw around about how God “has granted us everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3a)? The pattern of giving of the churches in Macedonia, Achaia and Corinth stand as examples of that “life and godliness”. Do you see the righteous character in these assemblies displayed? They had first given themselves to God, trusted in God, recognized His will (commandments), then desired to be participants in it. See brethren, those saints knew where “their bread was buttered”, so to speak. They knew that “He who supplies seed to the sewer and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness” (2 Cor. 9:10). You want your deeds of righteousness to “abide forever”, to bear long term fruits? A great opportunity lies in our willingness to support the church abroad, as well as locally. Do you believe that the Lord will resupply your “stash of cash” to meet your personal needs if you first are willing to give out of even your “deep poverty” ? Let’s turn back to the psalmist for a moment. He says to those who give freely to the poor, “his horn will be exalted in honor”. The horn in the Old Testament was a symbol of power. Do you want your horn to be exalted? The power of a righteous man is manifested in his willingness to scatter abroad and give. Indeed, it’s an honor. Now you may be able to see a little clearer why the churches of Macedonia begged “with much entreaty for the favor of participation in the support of the saints.” We don’t “earn” our way into heaven by giving; we glorify God for the ministry of this service, “overflowing through many thanksgivings to God.” (2 Cor. 9:12)