THE “M” WORD
Show Yourself to me today, my God.
Read 2 Corinthians 8:1–15
The Collection for the Lord’s People
8 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 exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then 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[a]—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.”[b]
a 2 Corinthians 8:7 Some manuscripts and in your love for us
b 2 Corinthians 8:15 Exodus 16:18
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWhat do you consider to be “mine”? And “ours”? And “God’s”?
“Never talk about religion, politics or money if you want to protect a friendship,” many say. Undaunted, Paul launches into the subject of financial giving, but not until he has established the basis of his relationship with the church in Corinth and is able to express “complete confidence” in them (7:16).
Paul’s collection from the Gentile churches for the suffering Jerusalem church could be seen as an unnecessary headache. Considering the resistance to the inclusion of Gentiles in some parts of the Jewish church, why bother? True, he had been asked by the apostles to “remember the poor” (Gal. 2:10), and he knew the debt of the Gentiles to the Jewish people (Rom. 15:27), but his reason for this collection was deeper: the church is one body and provision should be shared (8:13–15).
To spur on the Corinthians, he appeals to their pride (7) and competitiveness (1). The church at Corinth prided itself on its spirituality. But true spirituality has to be expressed in down-to-earth matters such as money and relationships. The real question was not whether they could compete with the Macedonian church, but whether their behavior would be shaped by their experience of Christ (9), and whether they would give themselves to him (5).
This passage is full of “grace.” Can you make a list of ways in which you have benefitted from the generosity of others, and of Christ himself? How can you pass along the blessing?
Lord, I pray that I would begin to see my possessions in their true light, as gifts from You to be used for Your glory.