A Call to Generous Giving
Read (2 Corinthians 8:1-8)
Throughout chapter 8 and 9, Paul lists the motivations for giving. He calls it grace or generosity. The grace of giving is one of the highest Christian virtues. Hence there is a special attention devoted to this subject in these two chapters. The Corinthian church pledged to support the struggling saints at Jerusalem (Romans 15:25; 1 Corinthians 16:1; 2 Corinthians 9:1). This inspired the churches in Galatia and Macedonia to give generously. Though Corinthians started out eagerly to support the needy brethren, they lost the desire to give generously. In this chapter Paul appeals to Corinthians to fulfill their pledge. Paul testifies that the churches of Macedonia gave generously beyond their means. In their severe affliction and poverty, they could give generously of their own free will (8:3). Such giving on their part was totally unexpected. They gave themselves first to God and then to the saints. Titus was delegated to encourage Corinthians to complete their giving for the saints at Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:6). Paul expects them to abound in the grace of giving as they excelled in every gift (8:7). The Corinthian church was known for their spiritual gifts and their love for other believers (1 Corinthians 1:5-7). This is how they could prove that their love was genuine (8:8). We should not draw attention to ourselves. God desires that our giving must be a willing, cheerful and generous expression of our thankful hearts. We can give without loving but cannot love without giving. Pray that God would help us to grow in our generosity.
Christ Our Example
Read (2 Corinthians 8:9-15)
Cheerful giving is not a natural response. Christians are not called to give out of a sense of guilt or obligation. Generous giving comes as a response to God’s grace and his love toward us. Jesus gave up all of his privileges for us. He embraced poverty so that we might become rich (2 Cor 8:9). True sacrificial love is exemplified in Jesus Christ (Philippians 2:7). Generosity flows from an understanding of the grace of God toward us. When we realize that, Lord owns everything, we will be motivated to give generously (2 Corinthians 8:13-14; Psalms 24:1). All we have is the direct result of what Christ has given us. If Christians don’t desire to give, they never understood the grace of God. Paul wants Corinthians to give according to what they have. God never wanted us to give what we don’t have. God looks at the heart of the giver rather than what they give. Although the rich people gave more to the treasury, Jesus praised the widow who gave willingly out of her poverty (Mark 12:44). The early church helped those who were in need. Paul quotes Exodus 16:18 here. "Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only little had enough". Our God is a generous God (John 3:16). If we don't desire to give, then we have not fully understood the nature of the gospel. Pray that God would help us to give willingly, cheerfully and generously. Jesus said “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Has the generous grace of God helped you to grow in your own generosity? May the generous grace of God help you to grow in your own generosity?
Be Faithful to Christ
Read (2 Corinthians 8:16-24)
Paul was thankful that Titus was willing and eager to visit Corinth. We cannot force people to serve Christ. There must be joy in serving Christ. Paul is going to send another faithful servant with Titus. He was chosen by the churches to assist the apostle in overseeing the collection for Jerusalem church. He was known among the churches for his preaching. Most likely, he was one of the men listed in Acts 20:4. Financial matters should be handled with honesty because it is vulnerable to criticism. Paul wanted that no one should find fault in the way they handled the money (2 Corinthians 8:20). Paul wanted that they should be found honorable before the Lord but also before men. Paul wants that generosity must be motivated by the grace of God. Paul does not want the church to earn God's favor through their financial giving. Our giving cannot earn God’s favor. But our love for others is the proof that the gospel has truly changed our hearts (8:24). Titus and Paul served Corinthians for their benefit and for the glory of Christ. Paul asks Corinthians to prove their love to the Jerusalem saints and other churches that Paul’s boasting about them was true. Before we can do what God says, we must recognize what God has done for us. May God give us the joy of generosity to help those who are in need. Love for others is the proof that the gospel has truly changed our hearts.