Friday, July 9, 2010

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord's people. 5 And they went beyond our expectations; having given themselves first of all to the Lord, they gave themselves by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: "The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little."

Questions to consider:
  • How have Paul’s remarks in Chapter 7 set the tone for this matter here?
  • What is the motivation for giving? Why should commands to give be unnecessary?
  • To what extent do you carry out your plans for giving? Why?
  • What principles could improve your approach to giving?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul not only commends the Corinthian church for their previous generosity, but encourages them to continue in that mode of thinking. He seems to indicate that when it comes to giving, it is more about the attitude than the amount--we should be giving joyfully from whatever we have rather than grudgingly. Let’s ask God to give us the desire to give freely to the work that He is doing, here in our community, in our city, and in our world. Ask God to change your heart so that giving might be a joy and privilege instead of a pain and obligation.