To save time, I’m going to combine the next 3 chapters of 2 Corinthians — 7, 8 and 9. I want to stress the main points of them without boring you with parts that you can read on your own later. Not that they’re unimportant, but the major ideas can get buried. I’ve included links to the parts I’m skipping over.
2 Corinthians 7
Because we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that can defile our body or spirit. And let us work toward complete holiness because we fear God.
2 Please open your hearts to us. We have not done wrong to anyone, nor led anyone astray, nor taken advantage of anyone. 3 I’m not saying this to condemn you. I said before that you are in our hearts, and we live or die together with you. 4 I have the highest confidence in you, and I take great pride in you. You have greatly encouraged me and made me happy despite all our troubles.2 Corinthians 7:1-4 NLT
Part of the Christian salvation is the cleansing of your old self after repenting of your sins and becoming a new life in Christ. But we still have to live in this world and that can easily defile our body and spirit! So we have to continually work towards “complete holiness” or sanctification because we fear — or respect — God.
Paul then goes on to tell them of his joy that they obeyed his instructions in the last letter he wrote them, admonishing them for their sins. He wrote it in love for their benefit. You can read that here.
2 Corinthians 8
A Call to Generous Giving
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. 2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.
6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. 7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.
9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 15 As the Scriptures say,
“Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over,2 Corinthians 8:1-15 NLT
and those who gathered only a little had enough.” [Exodus 16:18]
I’ve heard people comment that all churches want is your money. That’s the wrong impression and I’m sorry that people think that. One thing that Catholics do right is generosity and charitable giving and acts. However, their reason for giving — to get “grace points” so you spend less time in a place that doesn’t exist — purgatory — is totally wrong. You can’t earn or pay your way into heaven! That’s the truth.
This also doesn’t mean socialism either. Notice that the government isn’t mentioned here at all. It’s Christian believers giving to the church so the church can pay their operating expenses and help the less fortunate. My church gives 10% of their income to local charities and supports missionaries in the U.S. and abroad.
In the next part, Paul talks about Titus and his travels. You can read about that here.
2 Corinthians 9
I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. 2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. 4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! 5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.” [Proverbs 22:8] 8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”[Psalm 112:9]
10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity in you.
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!2 Corinthians 9 NLT
I pray verse 10 every night. I remind God that the more he provides for me — in the way of new clients for my business — I can then, in turn, give more. I want to support ministries that are helping to spread the Good News of Jesus’ salvation all over the world. It’s a promise I made to God in return for His promise to me.
What is a Tithe?
10% — that’s a tithe. 10% of your income off the top. He’s asking believers to trust Him to provide enough so you can live on 90%. But, wait! A cheerful giver will give more that 10%! That’s 10% to the church, then donations to worthy Christian organizations that serve the less fortunate — the poor, the hungry, the homeless, disaster relief, orphans and widows — that’s above and beyond.
Growing up Catholic, we went to church because it was an obligation. My parents gave because they were ordered to. I remember having an envelope to put change in as my obligation. It wasn’t an offering. It wasn’t cheerful giving. I had to do it.
When I became unemployed in 2008, I became poor and needy. But, I gave 10% of whatever was in my bank account each week. Even if it was only 50 cents. When I got my first unemployment check, I gave my 10% that week. That was cheerful giving in gratitude for what I received.
I’ve been giving 10%, if not more, with every payment I get from a client ever since. And, praise God, business is doing great.
You do reap what you sow!
If you’re not sure if you’re saved or not, if you truly want to be born again and have the assurance of salvation, receive the Holy Spirit, and get a 1-way, non-stop ticket to Heaven after you die, or that you won’t be left behind at the Rapture, this is what you have to do…