Aug. 22. Virtues of Generous Giving

II Cor. 8:1-9:15

Paul turned his attention to the collection for the poor saints in Judea. Several months had passed since he had first asked for contributions from the churches to assist these Christians. In his first letter, he had instructed the Corinthians to have this offering prepared for him when he came.

The churches of Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea) were in deep poverty, but they had been very generous in their giving to this cause. Paul reported to the Corinthians this example of liberality in order to encourage them to be liberal in their gift to the Judean Christians. The Macedonians not only gave of their material means, but they also gave themselves as a sacrifice to the Lord. They had surrendered their will to the will of God.

Paul reminded the Corinthians of the sacrifice of Christ—how through His love, He had become poor by leaving heaven in order that they (WE) might become spiritually rich. They had been well blessed with material blessings as well as with spiritual gifts. He advised them to finish the work that they had started a year earlier and to be generous with their material contribution.

The contribution from the churches was to be voluntary, out of a heart of love and in proportion to what they had received—the larger their income, the more that Paul advised them to give.

Paul explained that he did not want the churches to give more than they could spare, but to share their goods in that time of extreme poverty in Judea. If the conditions were reversed at a later time, they could expect help from those whom they had helped earlier.

One of the concerns that Paul had stated in his first letter to the Corinthians dealt with his desire that no one would accuse him of using a part of the contribution for his own personal advantage. He was pleased that Titus was more than willing to accept the responsibility of helping care for these funds. Two other brothers, one of them possibly Luke also went along to help.

If anyone should question the reliability of these three men, Paul instructed the Corinthians to identify Titus as his partner and fellow worker and the other men as messengers from him.

Paul was so concerned about the collection and its purpose that he repeated his admonitions for the Corinthians to be prepared upon his arrival from Macedonia. He knew that they had been willing a year earlier to make this offering and he had boasted about them to the Macedonians. This boasting had influenced the Macedonians in their generosity. He feared that if any of them were to accompany him to Corinth and the collection not be ready, everyone would be embarrassed because of his boasting.

One of the main duties of Titus and his companions was to encourage the Corinthians to complete their offering. Paul did not want the church to feel a grudging obligation after he arrived.

A great lesson on giving was presented in Paul’s letter when he said, “He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” One’s giving is to be cheerful, as he plans in his heart and not grudgingly or because of duty.

Blessings come to those who give liberally, just as the harvest comes to a farmer who liberally sows his seed. He has grain for food and the market and seed for sowing the next crop. If the farmer refuses to “give” the seed to the soil, he will not receive the blessings of the harvest.

Paul explained that in addition to the blessings the Corinthians were supplying to the Judeans, they were pleasing God and bringing praise to Him. They were also showing brotherly love as they shared a fellowship with the Jerusalem church.

Some of the Jews in Jerusalem were still suspicious of Paul and doubted the sincerity of his Gentile converts. He felt that this gift from Gentile Christians to Jewish Christians would help to remove some of those doubts.

Paul thanked God for His indescribable gift—Jesus, the Christ. Those who follow His teachings have a love for their fellowman that motivates them to rise above any bigotry and to serve others.