GIVING GOD’S WAY
Lord, make me a giver.
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.
“Freely you have received; freely give” (Matt. 10:8). Thank God for all he has “freely” given you in Jesus.
These powerful verses introduce the two towering chapters on Christian giving. At the outset we see that our financial giving should be characterized by joy and generosity. Yes, we are to give “according to our means” (11). Those who are hard-pressed financially can be reassured: we are called to give what we can, not what we can’t. Even so, we are to aim for excellence (1,7). Western Christians should feel this challenge more poignantly. We are often wedded to our possessions and financial security, marred by materialism and the wearying, unending cycle of needing to have more. God’s Word encourages us to reorder our priorities and be generous.
Along with challenge there is great encouragement. We have a giving God, who provides for our needs (cf. 2 Cor, 9:8). This superabundant generosity is shown primarily in the Gospel (9). God’s Son was “rich beyond all splendor” (Frank Houghton, 1894–1972), but he came to us, becoming poor, living with us, and dying for us. A great exchange has taken place, for we were poor indeed before receiving this priceless gift. We praise God for his grace and we see that, whenever we give, we reflect his character and live in a way consistent with the Gospel.
Financial giving is, in fact, a key test of the “sincerity” of our love (8). Anyone can say their love is genuine, but where is the proof (24)? I once heard a speaker say that, rather than raising our hands in worship, we should be putting them in our pockets and giving more liberally to the work of God. Do we really love God and other people as much as we should? The answer will surface not so much in our public praise (although this is important) but rather in our private giving.
Do we “excel in this grace of giving” (7)? Reflect—and then resolve to take action.
Lord, we understand that You love a cheerful giver. Cause Your kingdom to assume an even higher profile in our giving, as we do so cheerfully and without regret.