Years ago, my wife received a small rebate from something she’d purchased. It wasn’t something she’d expected, it just showed up in the mail. About the same time, a good friend shared with her the immense needs of women in another country, entrepreneurial-minded women trying to better themselves by way of education and business. As is often the case, however, their first barrier was financial.
My wife took that rebate and made a micro-loan to a ministry devoted to helping these women. When the loan was repaid, she simply loaned again, and again, and so far has made twenty-seven such investments. My wife enjoys many things, but there’s rarely a smile as big on her face as when she receives an update on the flourishing taking place in the lives of women she’s never met.
We often hear emphasis on the last word in this phrase—“God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7)—and rightly so. But our giving has a specific quality about it—it shouldn’t be done “reluctantly or under compulsion,” and we’re called not to sow “sparingly” (vv. 6–7). In a word, our giving is to be “cheerful.” And while each of us will give a little differently, our faces are places for telling evidence of our cheer.
Paul’s first trip to Corinth took place near the end of his second missionary journey after leaving Athens (Acts 18:1). While in Corinth, Paul worked during the week as a tentmaker with Aquila and Priscilla (v. 3), and on the Sabbath he “reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks” (v. 4) to receive the message of the gospel.
His second visit to Corinth occurred after Timothy visited there (1 Corinthians 4:17) and is described as Paul’s “painful visit” (2 Corinthians 2:1). In addition to 1 and 2 Corinthians, many scholars believe Paul wrote at least one other letter to the Corinthians, now lost (see 1 Corinthians 5:9; 2 Corinthians 7:8–10). It’s clear Paul loved and was deeply concerned for this church (2 Corinthians 2:4).