A Call to Generous Giving
In chapters 8 and 9, Paul gives the most comprehensive treatment of Christian stewardship found anywhere in the New Testament. He appeals to the Corinthians to follow the example set by the churches in Macedonia in generous, sacrificial giving—a reasonable response to God’s indescribable gift of His Son.
–Walk Thru the Bible Ministries
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.
2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
The northern part of Greece was called Macedonia. The southern part was called Achaia, and the city of Corinth was in the region of Achaia. Paul is writing about the example he sees in the churches of Macedonia, in cities such as Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
Why was Paul writing about giving at all? What was he collecting money for? Paul was raising money to help the Christians in Jerusalem, who were very poor. He had previously mentioned this effort in 1 Corinthians 16:1-4.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.
6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. 7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
The rich young ruler (Mark 10:17-22) retained his hoard but lost his soul. The small man Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10) gave away his wealth and found in return eternal riches.
“Give, and it will be given to you,” Jesus promised (Luke 6:38). And who should know more about such things than the Giver of every good and perfect gift (James 1:17)!
8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.
9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 15 As the Scriptures say,
“Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over,
and those who gathered only a little had enough.”
Paul draws upon the example of God providing manna for the Israelites in the wilderness; click HERE to read about it in Exodus 16.
Wealth, like manna, is the gift of God. It is spread by His hand around us every day. Some are able to gather much more than others. By their skill, health, diligence, or by providential arrangements, they are eminently successful. Others are sick, aged, unskilled, and less successful.
All that is obtained is by the arrangement of God. The health, the strength, the skill, the wisdom by which we are enabled to obtain wealth, are all His gift. Honestly obtained wealth should be regarded as His bounty, and we should esteem it a privilege daily to impart to others less favored and less successful.
To continue the analogy, manna—if kept more than a single day—became foul and loathsome. Does not wealth that should have been distributed to relieve the wants of others become corrupting in its nature? Wealth, like manna, should be employed in the service which God designs—employed to diffuse everywhere the blessings of religion, comfort, and peace.
Titus and His Companions
16 But thank God! He has given Titus the same enthusiasm for you that I have. 17 Titus welcomed our request that he visit you again. In fact, he himself was very eager to go and see you. 18 We are also sending another brother with Titus. All the churches praise him as a preacher of the Good News. 19 He was appointed by the churches to accompany us as we take the offering to Jerusalem—a service that glorifies the Lord and shows our eagerness to help.
20 We are traveling together to guard against any criticism for the way we are handling this generous gift. 21 We are careful to be honorable before the Lord, but we also want everyone else to see that we are honorable.
22 We are also sending with them another of our brothers who has proven himself many times and has shown on many occasions how eager he is. He is now even more enthusiastic because of his great confidence in you. 23 If anyone asks about Titus, say that he is my partner who works with me to help you. And the brothers with him have been sent by the churches, and they bring honor to Christ. 24 So show them your love, and prove to all the churches that our boasting about you is justified.
J. B. Phillips translates the last verse: “So do let them, and all the churches, see how genuine your love is, and justify all the nice things we have said about you!”
Jesus says in Matthew 10 — Freely you have received; freely give. HERE are the Maranatha Singers with “Freely, Freely.”
New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.