Explain the significance of God’s ability to increase grace (see 2 Corinthians 9:8).
Paul, in 2 Corinthians, discusses God’s favor in the context of tithing and other acts of charity (verses 8:1–9:15). The church in Corinth had pledged to send aid to the famine-ravaged church in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27–30; 1 Corinthians 16:1-4; see 2 Corinthians 9:5), but had not done so. Now Paul urges them to contribute gladly and abundantly (2 Corinthians 9:6–7). He understands that, when Christians give with large hearts and open hands, God rewards them abundantly: “And God is able to make all grace overflow to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8, ESV) (2 Corinthians 9:8, ESV).
The agrarian adage “Whoever sows sparingly will likewise reap sparingly, and whoever sows lavishly will also reap generously” provides Paul with an apt metaphor for his argument (2 Corinthians 9:6; cf. Proverbs 11:24). “A generous person will thrive; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed,” asserts Solomon (Proverbs 11:25). (Proverbs 11:25). Proverbs 22:9, in the vein of the Beatitudes, agrees: “Blessed are the generous, because they will provide food for the hungry” (NLT).
When Paul received financial support from the Christians in Philippi, he penned a similar encouragement: “I want you to get a return for your charity. At the moment I have everything I need—and more! I am well provided with the presents you brought me with Epaphroditus. They are a sweet-smelling offering that is acceptable and appealing to God. And this same God who takes care of me will fulfill all your needs from his great riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:17–19, NLT) (Philippians 4:17–19, NLT).
Sometimes we struggle with giving—even more with giving liberally and cheerfully—when we have urgent needs of our own. What we have, we believe, should be protected at all costs. “Give, and it will be given to you,” Jesus said. Everything you need will be given to you, and then plenty, with room to spare. “Be careful how you measure things, since you’ll end up getting what you give” (Luke 6:38).
For the farmer and his family, as well as seed for the next year and enough to share with the hungry, the God of the harvest gives abundantly. Similarly, Jehovah Jireh, God our provider, ensures that we have all we need and more than enough to give to those in need.
It’s not only in the New Testament and the Proverbs that we see the idea that God can make grace overflow to us. The people of Malachi’s day had abandoned the Lord and stopped giving Him the tithes and sacrifices He rightfully deserved (Malachi 3:8–9). God told Malachi’s audience to put Him to the test by bringing all their tithes into the temple storeroom so there would be adequate food in God’s House. ‘If you do,’ declares the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, ‘I will throw open the heavens for you. I’m going to shower you with such a huge blessing that you won’t have place for it! Try it! So, go ahead and try me out. That’s what the Bible says (Malachi 3:10).
Every believer in Jesus Christ has received the free gift of God’s forgiveness and salvation via His blood (Romans 5:15). His willingness to forgive sinners serves as an inspiration to us. After experiencing God’s unmerited favor, we need to extend that same favor to everyone around us. As recipients of God’s grace, we should be generous with it, because it is of endless and unending supply.
Generosity of spirit is a character trait God really values in His people, and He wants this of them at all times and in all places. He wants His children to believe “that God is able to make all grace abound.” And He bountifully gives what we need.