2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Thursday, 23 June 2022
“But just as you excel in everything, [and lead the way] in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in genuine concern, and in your love for us, see that you excel in this gracious work [of giving] also.” -2 Corinthians 8:7
Paul addresses one of the important principles of Christian living – the ministry of giving! In his letter to the believers at Corinth, Paul was soliciting financial aid from other churches to support and provide famine-relief to the poor brethren in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27-30). While the Corinthian church had made a commitment to provide relief to the Jerusalem brethren (1 Cor.16:1-5), they had not yet followed through with it. In exhorting them and us today on the “grace of giving,” Paul gives two exemplary models – i)the Macedonian Church (Vs 1-5); ii) our Lord Jesus Christ (Vs 9)— that we can learn much from.
The Macedonia churches were not strangers to poverty and affliction. Their trials and poverty made them more aware and empathetic towards the needs of the brethren in Jerusalem. Despite their own lack, they set aside and gave sacrificially. Our giving should be sacrificial, just as the Macedonia church gave ‘according to their ability, and beyond their ability’ (V.3). Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. (Heb. 13:16)
The poor Macedonia church did not withhold their limited provisions; rather they chose to give generously in spite of their poverty. Our giving should not be from our abundance, but when we give let us feel the pinch and yet give generously— like the widow with the 2 copper coins, who out of her poverty gave all she had (Luke 21:1-4).
The Macedonia church gave with joy. Paul says our giving should not be ‘grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.’ (2 Cor. 9:7) Our giving needs to be with a joyful heart, overflowing from our love for our brothers and the gladness of being able to help in their time of need.
From Verses 3-4 we see that they gave voluntarily, begging Paul for the privilege of participating in the service to support the saints. Our giving should not be out of a necessity or compulsion, but whole-heartedly and willingly, considering it a privilege to be able to be of service to those in need. “But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17)
Submission to God & the Leadership appointed by Him
The Macedonians’ motivation in giving was not to earn praises, but the overflow of their generosity was rooted in serving the Lord. They first gave themselves to the Lord and to godly leadership by the will of God and then chose to follow the direction of God in their giving. As God’s children, let our one desire be to live according to the Father’s will, dedicating ourselves to His service for the advancement of His kingdom, with our giving.
The ultimate model is Christ Himself
the Son of God left every heavenly privilege to come in human form, as one among us, to suffer and die on our behalf, that we might be redeemed and restored to God! His giving of Himself for us is sacrificial - overflowing from His love for us, generously not withholding even His very life for us, joyful in his suffering on our behalf, willingly He chose to give Himself for us and to the point of death being obedient to the Father’s will. (Phil. 2:5-8) Christ’s selfless giving of Himself is the standard for our giving.
Our giving should be a natural response to the grace and love of God that has been bestowed up on. Do not limit yourselves to ‘giving’ as financial, but giving should be of oneself – our time, our talents, interceding in prayer – a giving rooted in Christian love.
A blessing in our giving: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” (Luke 6:38)