Chapter nine continues Paul’s discussion on the Corinthians’ giving toward his benevolence ministry with some important general principles about giving in the Church Age. We must understand that tithing is strictly an Old Testament teaching and practice. Nowhere is tithing taught or commanded in the New Testament, including in this chapter. Instead, Christians should give generously and graciously for four reasons, one of which is the support of our global Christian family. (The support of local church leaders, local church members, and global missions are the other three.)
Paul was not afraid to be blunt with his churches. He would not let them feign ignorance as if they did not know they should give toward this ministry (2 Corinthians 9:1-4). In fact, he had bragged to the Macedonians about how well the Corinthians were doing with their fund-raising. This is the second time he mentioned about bragging on them (2 Corinthians 7:14) and the second time he wanted to make sure he was not embarrassed by it. Although some may call this a “guilt trip,” it is obvious that, no matter how wrong they could be in some areas, Paul always had great hopes for their growth.
It was important that they did not give just because he told them to do so, though, so he gave three principles of generous giving that are still applicable today (2 Corinthians 9:5-9). First, giving is like sowing. The principle of the harvest reveals that our harvest reflects what we sow, comes later than we sow, and is in proportion to what we sow. Second, giving should be done intentionally and not reluctantly. Third, giving with the right heart (“cheerful”) pleases God.
Prosperity Gospel preachers misuse these principles to convince people to give to their ministries, often promising “returns on investment” for every dollar given. Paul did not do that. Giving is a spiritual issue, and God will reward, although not necessarily with more finances in this lifetime. Instead, the harvest may be one “of righteousness,” both in the giver and the recipient (2 Corinthians 9:10-15). Ultimately, the reason for our giving should be to glorify God, and it is a privilege to be able to participate in his work in this way. “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”