2 Corinthians 9:7
Every man according as he purposes in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loves a cheerful giver.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(7) Every man according as he purposeth.—The verb, which does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament, is used in its full ethical significance as indicating, not a passing impulse nor a vague wish, but a deliberate resolve, deciding both on the end and on the means for its attainment (Aristotle, Eth. Nicom. iii., c. 2). Such, St. Paul teaches, should be the purpose of the giver—not the outcome of a spent emotion, or a promise half-regretted, but formed with a clear well-defined perception of all attendant circumstances, and therefore neither “grudgingly,” as regards amount, nor with reluctance, as giving under pressure.

God loveth a cheerful giver.—As in 2Corinthians 8:21, so here, we have a distinct echo from the Book of Proverbs (Proverbs 22:8) as it stands in the Greek version. In that version we find the following: “He that soweth wicked things shall reap evils, and shall complete the penalty of his deed. God blesseth a cheerful man and a giver, and shall complete” (in a good sense) “the incompleteness of his works.” It is obvious that this differs much from the Hebrew, which is represented in the English version, and it is interesting as showing that St. Paul used the LXX., and habitually quoted from it, and not from the Hebrew. As coming so soon after the quotation from Proverbs 3:4 in 2Corinthians 8:21, it seems to suggest that the Apostle had recently been studying that book, and that his mind was full of its teaching. As a law of action, it may be noted that the principle has a far wider range of application than that of simple alms-giving. Cheerfulness in visits of sympathy, in the daily offices of kindness, in the life of home, in giving instruction or advice—all come under the head of that which God approves and loves. So the greatest of Greek ethical teachers had refused the title of “liberal” to the man who gave without pleasure in the act of giving. The pain he feels proves that if he could he would rather have the money than do the noble action (Aristotle, Eth. Nicom. iv., c. 1).

9:6-15 Money bestowed in charity, may to the carnal mind seem thrown away, but when given from proper principles, it is seed sown, from which a valuable increase may be expected. It should be given carefully. Works of charity, like other good works, should be done with thought and design. Due thought, as to our circumstances, and those we are about to relieve, will direct our gifts for charitable uses. Help should be given freely, be it more or less; not grudgingly, but cheerfully. While some scatter, and yet increase; others withhold more than is meet, and it tends to poverty. If we had more faith and love, we should waste less on ourselves, and sow more in hope of a plentiful increase. Can a man lose by doing that with which God is pleased? He is able to make all grace abound towards us, and to abound in us; to give a large increase of spiritual and of temporal good things. He can make us to have enough in all things; and to be content with what we have. God gives not only enough for ourselves, but that also wherewith we may supply the wants of others, and this should be as seed to be sown. We must show the reality of our subjection to the gospel, by works of charity. This will be for the credit of our profession, and to the praise and glory of God. Let us endeavour to copy the example of Christ, being unwearied in doing good, and deeming it more blessed to give than to receive. Blessed be God for the unspeakable gift of his grace, whereby he enables and inclines some of his people to bestow upon others, and others to be grateful for it; and blessed be his glorious name to all eternity, for Jesus Christ, that inestimable gift of his love, through whom this and every other good thing, pertaining to life and godliness, are freely given unto us, beyond all expression, measure, or bounds.Every man according as he purposeth in his heart ... - The main idea in this verse is, that the act of giving should be voluntary and cheerful. It should not seem to be extorted by the importunity of others 2 Corinthians 9:6; nor should it be given from urgent necessity, but it should be given as an offering of the heart. On this part of the verse we may remark:

(1) That the heart is usually more concerned in the business of giving than the head. If liberality is evinced, it will be the heart which prompts to it; if it is not evinced, it will be because the heart has some bad passions to gratify, and is under the influence of avarice, or selfishness, or some other improper attachment. Very often a man is convinced he ought to give liberally, but a narrow heart and a parsimonious spirit prevents it.

(2) we should follow the dictates of the heart in giving. I mean that a man will usually give more correctly who follows the first promptings of his heart when an object of charity is presented, than he will if he takes much time to deliberate. The instinctive prompting of a benevolent heart is to give liberally. And the amount which should be given will usually be suggested to a man by the better feelings of his heart. But if he resolves to deliberate much, and if he suffers the heart to grow cold, and if he defers it, the pleadings of avarice will como in, or some object of attachment or plan of life will rise to view, or he will begin to compare himself with others. and he will give much less than he would have done if he had followed the first impulse of feeling. God implanted the benevolent feelings in the bosom that they should prompt us to do good; and he who acts most in accordance with them is most likely to do what he ought to do; and in general it is the safest and best rule for a man to give just what his heart prompts him to give when an object of charity is presented. Man at best is too selfish to be likely to give too much or to go beyond his means; and if in a few instances it should be done, more would be gained in value in the cultivation of benevolent feeling than would be lost in money. I know of no better rule on the subject, than to cultivate as much as possible the benevolent feelings, and then to throw open the soul to every proper appeal to our charity, and to give just according to the instinctive prompting of the heart.

(3) giving should be voluntary and cheerful. It should be from the heart. Yet there is much, very much that is not so, and there is, therefore, much benevolence that is spasmodic and spurious; that cannot be depended on, and that will not endure. No dependence can be placed on a man in regard to giving who does not do it from the steady influences of a benevolent heart. But there is much obtained in the cause of benevolence that is produced by a kind of extortion It is given because others give, and the man would be ashamed to give less than they do. Or, it is given because he thinks his rank in life demands it, and he is prompted to do it by pride and vanity. Or, he gives from respect to a pastor or a friend, or because he is warmly importuned to give; or because he is shut up to a kind of necessity to give, and must give or he would lose his character and become an object of scorn and detestation. In all this there is nothing cheerful and voluntary; and there can be nothing in it acceptable to God. Nor can it be depended on permanently. The heart is not in it, and the man will evade the duty as soon as he can, and will soon find excuses for not giving at all.

Not grudgingly - Greek, "Not of grief" (μὴ ἐκ λύπης mē ek lupēs). Not as if be were sorry to part with his money. Not as if he were constrained to do a thing that was extremely painful to him. "Or of necessity." As if he were compelled to do it. Let him do it cheerfully.

For God loveth a cheerful giver - And who does not? Valuable as any gift may be in itself, yet if it is forced and constrained; if it can be procured only after great importunity and persevering effort, who can esteem it as desirable? God desires the heart in every service. No service that is not cheerful and voluntary; none that does not arise from true love to him can be acceptable in his sight. God loves it because it shows a heart like his own - a heart disposed to give cheerfully and do good on the largest scale possible; and because it shows a heart attached from principle to his service and cause. The expression here has all the appearance of a proverb, and expressions similar to this occur often in the Scriptures. In an uninspired writer, also, this idea has been beautifully expanded. "In all thy gifts show a cheerful countenance, and dedicate thy tithes with gladness. Give unto the Most High according as he hath enriched thee: and as thou hast gotten give with a cheerful eye. For the Lord recompenseth, and will give thee seven times as much" - Wisdom of the Son of Sirach 35:9-11. In nothing, therefore, is it more important than to examine the motives by which we give to the objects of benevolence. However liberal may be our benefactions, yet God may see that there is no sincerity, and may hate the spirit with which it is done.

7. according as he purposeth in his heart—Let the full consent of the free will go with the gift [Alford]. Opposed to "of necessity," as "grudgingly" is opposed to "a cheerful giver" (Pr 22:9; 11:25; Isa 32:8). Let not any give out of any awe of us, nor as it were forced by our authority, but as God shall put it into his heart, and as he hath purposed in himself, and is inclined from himself, without any grudging or unwillingness; not because he thinks he must give, but out of choice: for God loveth one that giveth with freedom and cheerfulness, not him that giveth as it were by constraint, or upon force; it is the will and affection of the giver, not the quantity of the gift, that God looks at. The apostle, by naming God and his acceptance in the case, lets the Corinthians know, that God was concerned in what they thus gave, it was not given to men only; according to that: He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will he pay him again, Proverbs 19:17. Every man according as he purposeth in his heart,.... Which is not to be understood of the quantity, or any set sum he has fixed upon in his mind to give; but of the quality or nature of giving; or of the manner in which he is to give:

so let him give; of his own will and free choice, from his very heart; not as directed and forced by others, but according to his own counsel and determination:

not grudgingly; or not of grief; with pain and uneasiness of mind, grieving at parting with what is given, reflecting on the persons that move him to it, or on the objects moved for. The Jews (g) reckon this the lowest degree of all in giving alms; "when a man gives to anyone" "with grief", to which the apostle seems to refer: who adds,

or of necessity; of force, by coaction, being obliged to it by the influence, example, or commands of superiors; or through the powerful motives, or prevailing entreaties of others; for without these, men, according to their abilities, should give of themselves freely and liberally:

for God loveth a cheerful giver; or one that gives , "with a cheerful countenance", as the Jews (h) say; or as elsewhere (i), "with a cheerful heart": their rule is this,

"he that doth the commandment, i.e. alms, let him do it , "with a cheerful heart".''

Who looks pleasantly on the person or persons that move him to it, or on the object to whom he gives; who parts with his money willingly, and takes delight in doing good to others; such givers God loves: not that their cheerful beneficence is the cause of his special peculiar love to them in his own heart, which arises from nothing in man, or done by him; but the meaning is, that God does well to such persons; shows his love to them; he lets them know how kindly he takes such acts of theirs, by prospering and succeeding them in their worldly affairs. In the Septuagint in Proverbs 22:8 are these words, "God blesses a cheerful man, and a giver", which the apostle refers to.

(g) Maimon. Mattanot Anayim, c. 10. sect. 14. (h) Maimon. Mattanot Anayim, c. 10. sect. 13. (i) Vajikra Rabba, fol. 174. 1. Parash. 34.

Every man according as he {c} purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not {d} grudgingly, or of {e} necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

(c) Determines and appoints freely with himself.

(d) With a sparing and grudging heart.

(e) Against his will, not wanting to have evil spoken of him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2 Corinthians 9:7. But Paul does not desire them to give richly against their will; hence the new exhortation: Let every one give freely and willingly!

ἕκαστος καθὼς κ.τ.λ.] as each one purposes it to himself in his heart, namely, let him give,—a supplement, which readily flows from the previous ὁ σπείρων; comp. the subsequent δότην. Let him give according to cordial, free, self-determination. On τῇ καρδ., comp. τῇ ψυχῇ, Genesis 34:8. The present is used, because the προαιρεῖσθαι is conceived as only now emerging after the foregoing teaching.[288] In προαιρέομαι (only here in the N. T., but often in the sense of resolving in Greek writers; comp. 2Ma 6:9; 3Ma 2:30; 3Ma 6:10; 4Ma 9:1), προ has the notion of the preference, which we give to that on which we resolve, because the simple αἰρεῖσθαι has the sense of sibi eligere, where it likewise expresses a resolve or purpose (Xen. vii. 6. 37; Ages. iii. 4; Soph. Ajax, 443; Isocrates, Panath. 185). Hence μᾶλλον also, though in itself superfluous, may be added to προαιρεῖσθαι (Xen. Mem. ii. 1. 2, iii. 5. 16, iv. 2. 9).

ἐκ λύπης ἢ ἐξ ἀνάγκης] The opposite of καθὼς προαιρ. τ. καρδ.: out of sadness, namely, at having to lose something by the giving, or out of necessity, because one thinks himself forced by circumstances and cannot do otherwise (comp. Philemon 1:14). Ἐκ denotes the subjective state, out of which the action proceeds. To the ἐκ λύπης stands contrasted ἐξ εὐμενῶν στέρνων, Soph. Oed. C. 488; and to the ἐξ ἀνάγκης, the ἐκ θυμοῦ φιλέων, Hom. Il. ix. 486.

ἱλαρὸν γὰρ κ.τ.λ.] Motive for complying with this precept. The emphasis is on ἱλαρόν, whereby the opposite, as the giving ἐκ λύπης and ἐξ ἀνάγκης, is excluded from the love of God. Comp. Romans 12:8. The saying is from LXX. Proverbs 22:8, according to the reading: ἀγαπᾶ instead of εὐλογεῖ. It is wanting in our present Hebrew text. Comp. also Sir 14:16, and the Rabbinical passages in Wetstein; Senec. de benef. ii. 1. 2 : “in beneficio jucundissimo est tribuentis voluntas.” Instead of δότης, δοτήρ or δωτήρ only is found in classical authors; in Hes. Op. 353, δώτης also. See in general, Lobeck, Paralip. p. 428.

[288] The θέλειν, not yet taking definite shape, already existed ἀπὸ πέρυσι; but the definite determination how much each desires to give, is conceived by Paul as occurring now, after the readers have read ver. 6.2 Corinthians 9:7. ἕκαστος καθὼς κ.τ.λ.: let each man give (understanding διδότω) according as he hath purposed (note the perf.; he implies that they had already made up their minds to give. προαίρεσις is Aristotle’s formal word in Nic. Eth., iii. 3.19, for a free act of moral choice) in his heart (cf. Exodus 25:2, “of every man whose heart maketh him willing, ye shall take my offering”); not grudgingly or of necessity, forGod loveth a cheerful giver”. In this quotation from Proverbs 22:8, St. Paul substitutes (perhaps to avoid the cognate of εὐλογία) ἀγαπᾷ for εὐλογεῖ, the LXX reading as it has come down to us, but the sense is not altered. The duty of almsgiving played a large part in Hebrew ethics, and that it should be carried out ungrudgingly is often insisted on in the O.T. and Apocrypha, a point specially to be emphasised in the case of a people who have always had the repute of being over-fond of money—e.g., “Thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him” (Deuteronomy 15:10); “Let not thine eye be envious” (Tob 4:7); “In every gift show a cheerful countenance” (Sir 35:9). These precepts St. Paul commends to the Corinthians (cf. Romans 12:8). (Note that the practice of having “all things common,” which was initiated by the enthusiasm of the first converts (Acts 4:32 ff.), did not last long; it was a noble attempt to express in outward deed the brotherhood of men as revealed in the Incarnation, but was, in fact, impracticable).7. purposeth] The word, as used in Aristotle, denotes deliberate choice, without any constraint of any kind, as well as free from the impulse of the passions.

grudgingly] Literally, from sorrow, i.e. out of a sorrowful or unwilling heart. Cf. Exodus 25:2; Deuteronomy 15:10.

cheerful giver] Cf. Romans 12:8; Tob 4:7; Sir 35:9; and the LXX. of Proverbs 22:8.2 Corinthians 9:7. Καθὼς προαιρεῖται) according as he purposeth [is disposed] in his heart, Genesis 34:8, חָשְׁקָה נַפְשׁוֹ, LXX.—προεῖλετο ψυχῇ. He purposeth beforehand: grudgingly: from necessity: cheerful; Four expressions, of which the first and third, the second and fourth are opposed to each other.—ἐξ ἀνάγκης, from necessity) on this account only, that he cannot refuse.—ἱλαρὸν, cheerful) like God, Proverbs 22:9, LXX., ἄνδρα ἱλαρὸν καὶ δότην ἀγαπᾷ (Alex. εὐλογεῖ) ὁ Θεὸς, God loves a cheerful man and a cheerful giver (Alex. blesses, instead of loves).Verse 7. - In his heart. The heart must not only go with but anticipate the hand. Grudgingly; literally, from grief (Exodus 25:2; Romans 12:8). A cheerful giver. The phrase is from the addition to Proverbs 22:8, which is found in the LXX.; except that "loveth" is substituted for "blesseth." Compare "He that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness" (Romans 12:8). The rabbis said that cheerful kindness, even if nothing was given, was better than a morose gift. Purposeth (προαιρείται)

Read προῄρηται, perfect tense, hath purposed.

Grudgingly (ἐκ λύπης)

Lit., out of sorrow.

Cheerful (ἱλαρὸν)

Only here in the New Testament. See on the kindred ἱλαρότης cheerfulness, note on Romans 12:8.

God loveth, etc.

From Proverbs 22:9, where the Hebrew is, a kind man shall be blessed. Sept., God blesseth a man who is cheerful and a giver.

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