2 Corinthians 9:15  Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

In this chapter, the Apostle Paul has been encouraging the Corinthian church to be generous, willing and consistent in their giving to the Lord’s work (cf 1 Corinthians 16:2 – “On the first day of every week, each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with his income, saving it up, so that when I come no collections will have to be made.”).  The value of their giving lies in their attitude towards it.

As a Pharisee, he would have been very much aware of the way the Old Testament Prophets had to speak so strongly against Israel’s wrong approach to the sacrificial system to which they were bound by Covenant (e.g. Micah 6:6-8).  The LORD had no NEED of their sacrifices (see Psalm 50:9-15); what he needed was for them to demonstrate THEIR need of HIM by seeing all their material possessions as belonging to him anyway, and themselves as only stewards of these things.  What was more important was OBEDIENCE in terms of justice and mercy in their dealings with one another, especially the more vulnerable among them.

What the LORD wanted most was for their giving to be first and foremost a genuine expression of their GRATITUDE to him for his continued Covenant faithfulness and love/mercy.  And that is why Paul summarises his lengthy exhortation about giving with the simple statement: “THANKS be to GOD for HIS indescribable gift!”  God’s Covenant faithfulness and love/mercy to US is expressed supremely in the LORD JESUS CHRIST.

If our attitude to giving has become a sort of ‘buying’ of his favours, a putting of him in our debt for future blessing, or just a grudging act of ‘law-keeping’ obedience, then we have missed the whole point of what giving is all about, and our gifts lose their intrinsic value completely.  As Paul wrote to the Romans: “He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all – how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).  I like the way Matthias Claudius expresses it in his hymn (‘We plough the fields and scatter’): “Accept the gifts we offer for all your love imparts, and what you most would welcome: our humble, THANKFUL hearts.  All good gifts around us are sent from heaven above.  We THANK you, God, we THANK you, God, for all your love.”

– Bruce Christian