2 Corinthians 9

2 Corinthians 9:6

Now this I say, he who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.

(a) He who sows. Since this verse comes in the middle of a passage about giving, some have used these words to sell the blessings of God, as in “Give financially, and God will bless you financially.” However, the blessings of God cannot be bought for any price but are freely available on account of God’s grace (Eph. 1:3).

Sowing and reaping is a fact of life; you get back what you put in. Paul’s point is the more you sow, the more you reap. In context he’s saying, “If you decide to give out of your abundance, then don’t hold back.”

(b) Sparingly. Another way this verse is misused is to encourage the poor to give what they can’t afford in the hope of getting a financial windfall from a God who is obliged to repay them. Paul isn’t saying that either. The word “sparingly” paints a picture of a sower who has much seed to sow but who only sows some. When he’s finished he is left with spare seed. Paul is saying, “Don’t be a stingy sower who only reaps a stingy harvest because you’ll be missing out on a bountiful harvest.”

Further reading: “Sowing, reaping and the golden rule

2 Corinthians 9:8

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

(a) Grace abound. The original word for abound (perisseuō) means overflowing as in “more than you need.” It’s the same word used to describe the leftovers that remained after Jesus fed the 5000 (Matt. 14:20). When it comes to grace, God is generous to the point of lavish wastefulness. See also the entry for Rom. 5:20.

(b) Having all sufficiency. The original word (autarkeia) means independently wealthy and in need of nothing. Sufficiency is not an amount in your bank account but a mindset or a state of restful contentment. It’s living from the reality that “the Lord is shepherd, I shall not want” (Ps. 23:1).

(c) An abundance for every good deed. God gives you grace for your need and then he gives you extra grace that you don’t need until you are overflowing with grace.

In short, God graciously supplies all our needs giving us more than we need so that we can sow bountifully (2 Cor. 9:6) and draw others into the blessing of God.

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