2 Corinthians 9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
This passage, from verse six on, has been abused by so many charlatans that I’m tempted to wish it weren’t in the Bible, but it’s still God’s truth. “God loves a cheerful giver,” from verse seven, was one of the first lines of Scripture I was taught as a little child. That wasn’t bad, but it betrayed a focus on materialism in the Church as a whole. At the same time, Jesus said more about money than He did about heaven and hell put together, so the Church should certainly not ignore the issue. Our attitude toward money says more about us than we would like it to, sometimes. Financial insecurity is certainly debilitating, but it is actually a glorious opportunity to grow in faith and trust toward God. At the same time, having an unending spigot of funds can be a curse. Bill Whittle, out of his experience as a script writer and such in Hollywood, has said that “trust fund kids” were some of the most miserable people he knew. With no connection whatsoever between their actions and their income, they felt no purpose in life and acted that way, whether or not they did anything actually illegal. As it says in verses 10 and 11, God is certainly able to supply our every need, just as Jesus said in Matthew 6:22, but as Jesus said, our focus needs to be on God’s kingdom and His righteousness, and not on money. All of that is one reason “God’s gift” is indescribable, as this verse says. It’s complicated! Paul famously told Timothy that “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil.” (1 Timothy 6:10) That verse is one place the NIV translation is very good, because the traditional translation implies that the love of money is the singular root of every evil, and that is certainly not the case. We are left with the reality that money, though an essential part of human society as it exists now, is a very dangerous thing, so we need to be careful to keep our focus on God and be good stewards of what He provides, whether it seems, in this world’s terms, to be a lot or a little. At every level it is to be an exercise in trusting God as our Provider.
Growing up in a missionary family, I was never aware of any connection between my parents’ activities and their income. That had its good and its bad points. Many missionaries have to spend a great deal of effort “raising support,” as it’s called, and I’m grateful my parents didn’t have to do that. At the same time, their income was not commensurate with the jobs they did, particularly considering that my father filled many positions, including being Chancellor of a good-sized university, yet there were months when my mother had to be very creative in feeding our family because the money ran out before the month did. It is perhaps ironic that it was only after all the kids were in college, at least, that inheritances made my parents financially comfortable enough that they in turn left funds for us when they passed on, but my share of that enabled this church building, and I am grateful. At this point in my own life, I have experienced the Lord’s unexpected provision many times, and I am currently receiving minimal Social Security as well as the Japanese National Pension that I’ve been paying into, while still being able to teach in schools. I still don’t receive as much from the church as I put into it in offerings, but that’s not an issue. The whole point is that I’m to trust God and be a good steward of what He places in my hands, being an agent of His supply to others at times, for His glory.
Father, thank You for Your provision indeed. Thank You that it’s complicated because that forces us to grow, emotionally and spiritually. Help me be the steward You want me to be, doing Your will with everything, material or otherwise, that You provide, for Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!