The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem
I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem. 2 For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.
There may be some irony here. They had shown a willingness to participate in the collection for Jerusalem — yet why had they not actually sent a gift? Their intentions had inspired the Macedonians — yet what would the Macedonians think if they knew the Corinthians had, in fact, done nothing? So Paul reminds them, in positive language, to do what they said they would do.
3 But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. 4 We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! 5 So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.
6 Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. 7 You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”
Instead of giving in a grudging way or out of necessity, God wants us to give cheerfully. The Greek word for cheerful (hilaros, used only here in the New Testament) is the root for our English word hilarious. God wants us to give happily, because that is how God Himself gives!
8 And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. 9 As the Scriptures say,
“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”
11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.
My husband, David, has had four different careers. For ten years, he was a professional fund raiser serving two colleges and a hospital. He calls 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 the fund raiser’s chapters since these chapters are often used to motivate givers. He has expressed severe doubts about how many organizations use pathetic pictures to shame a donor into giving. Instead he has taught that giving is simply the response of the Christian who is grateful to God for salvation. When a Christian has this revelation, giving is natural and generous. God is looking for His children to give with a pure heart and without seeking recognition. As it says in Deuteronomy 8:18: “You shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift too wonderful for words!
No doubt you thank God often for what you receive. But when was the last time you thanked Him for what He has privileged you to give? When was the last time you went out of your way and dealt with the inconvenience of it all — to meet another’s need? The world is full of hurting people. Now is not the time to hoard the gift of the love of God in Jesus Christ!
Privileged to give. Lord, I want to have a generous heart! And may my giving yield eternal fruit in the kingdom of God!
My husband, David, suggested this song to me for this chapter. He never hears it without thinking of his own mother and his mother-in-law, Anne and Mary, who were generous and faithful to the end. HERE is Ray Boltz and “Thank You for Giving to the Lord.”
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.