“September 16–22. 2 Corinthians 8–13: ‘God Loveth a Cheerful Giver’” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: New Testament 2019 (2019)
“September 16–22. 2 Corinthians 8–13,” Come, Follow Me—For Individuals and Families: 2019
Record Your Impressions
What would you do if you heard that a congregation of Saints in another area was struggling in poverty? This was the situation that Paul described to the Corinthian Saints in 2 Corinthians 8–9. He hoped to persuade the Corinthian Saints to donate some of their abundance to Saints in need. But beyond a request for donations, Paul’s words also contain profound truths about giving: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). In our day, there are still Saints throughout the world who are in need of help. Sometimes the most we can do for them is to fast and donate fast offerings. In other cases, our giving can be more direct and personal. Whatever forms our sacrifices take, it’s worth examining our motivations for giving. Are our sacrifices expressions of love? After all, it’s love that makes a giver cheerful.
There are so many people in need all over the world. How can we possibly make a difference? Elder Jeffrey R. Holland offered this counsel: “Rich or poor, we are to ‘do what we can’ when others are in need [see Mark 14:6, 8]. … [God] will help you and guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again” (“Are We All Not Beggars?” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2014, 41).
Read 2 Corinthians 8:1–15; 9:6–15, making note of principles Paul taught about caring for the poor and needy. What inspires you about Paul’s counsel? You might pray for guidance about what you can do to bless someone in need. Be sure to record any impressions you receive and act on them.
See also Mosiah 4:16–27; Alma 34:27–29; Henry B. Eyring, “Is Not This the Fast That I Have Chosen?” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 22–25; Linda K. Burton, “I Was a Stranger,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 13–15.
It might help you understand this chapter to know that “false apostles” had arisen among the Corinthian Saints (2 Corinthians 11:13). What do you learn from verses 13–15 about those who teach false doctrines? What do you learn about true prophets as you read about Paul’s experiences as a minister of Christ? (see verses 23–33).
Because today there are many who seek to lead us away “from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3), you might accept Paul’s invitation to “examine [yourself], whether ye be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). For example, you might ponder what you can eliminate from your life that will help you focus on Christ, or you might complete the “Attribute Activity” in Preach My Gospel, page 126.
In these verses, Paul was talking about himself, without mentioning himself directly—perhaps to avoid boasting about his remarkable vision. The phrase “the third heaven” refers to the celestial kingdom (see D&C 76:96–98).
We don’t know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, but it’s easy to relate to his desire to have it removed. We all have challenges and problems that the Lord has not seen fit to remove from our lives. Think about your own challenges as you read 2 Corinthians 12:5–10. What did Paul teach about weakness? What does it mean to you that God’s grace is sufficient for you? How have you experienced God’s strengthening power?
In Old Testament times, two or three witnesses were required to bring an accusation against someone (see Deuteronomy 19:15). Paul cited this practice when he referred to his third visit to Corinth. Modern examples of this principle of multiple witnesses include the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon, the testimonies of Jesus Christ provided by the Bible and the Book of Mormon, and the practice of missionaries testifying in companionships.
As you read the scriptures with your family, the Spirit can help you know what principles to emphasize and discuss in order to meet the needs of your family. Here are some suggestions:
What do you find in these chapters that inspires your family to reach out to the poor and needy? This might be a good time to plan an act of service as a family for someone in need.
Does your family know someone who could be described as “a cheerful giver”? How can we make our service to others more cheerful?
How could you teach your family about our “warfare” against wickedness? Would your family enjoy building a wall or a fort with chairs and blankets? This could lead to a discussion about how to cast down things that lead us away from God and “[bring] into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.” What are the spiritual “weapons” we use to control our thoughts? (see Ephesians 6:11–18).
What can your family do to focus more on “the simplicity that is in Christ”?
For more ideas for teaching children, see this week’s outline in Come, Follow Me—For Primary.