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2 Corinthians 8:19; 9:12, 78, 1215comment (0)

August 19, 2010

By Robert Olsen

Related Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:19; 9:12, 78, 1215

Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile

Relationships: The Long-Distance Factor
2 Corinthians 8:1–9; 9:1–2, 7–8, 12–15

Look at Others’ Example: Be Generous (8:1–7)

Paul had asked the believers in Corinth to set aside money for the purpose of making a collection for the poor in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16). However, despite Paul’s urging, they did not do this. It seems that some of the traveling preachers who had come through Corinth dissuaded the believers from saving this money, likely in an attempt to take it for themselves. It was these traveling preachers who also tried to convince the Corinthians that Paul did not have adequate credentials to be teaching them, which is why he spends so much of this letter defending himself against these bogus claims. Regarding the issue of giving, Paul held up the Macedonian churches as examples for the Corinthian church to follow, since they gave to the Jerusalem church despite their poverty. Indeed they pleaded with Paul to be allowed to give, which shows the depth of their generosity. The believers in Macedonia understood that God gives to His children so that they can then bless others. What a great example for us today. We also can help our brothers and sisters in need by giving to various ministries, as well as to our church. Missionary activities require money and time, as well as much prayer. We also can spend time listening to others who just need to have fellowship, as well as volunteering at various ministries such as food kitchens and pregnancy support centers.

Consider Jesus’ Example: Be Loving (8:8–9)
In continuing his appeal for generosity, Paul explained that he was not commanding the Corinthians to give — true generosity is a free expression; it is not forced. However, Paul explained that true love seeks to help others. Therefore, if the Corinthian believers were not willing to give, then could they really love their neighbor? Paul then held up Christ as the prime example of how generosity works through love. Christ, who is God, left heaven and came to earth in human form to walk among and die for a sinful people. Christ, though rich, became poor for our salvation. If this is how Christ lived, then are Christians not to do the same? We can always show our love for others by ministering to them with generosity. This might be just sending a card to them, or it may involve more of a sacrifice; and as Christians following Christ’s example, we need to be willing to make sacrifices for others’ sake.

Establish Your Example: Be Eager (9:1–2, 7–8)
Paul had used the Corinthians’ eagerness to give as an example to other churches but now they were wavering. Paul admonished them to give as they had intended, not because they were required to do so, but if that is what God had laid on their hearts, then they needed to follow through joyfully, for He loves a cheerful giver. In the same way, when we agree to support a ministry, be it a local food kitchen or a missionary, we need to follow through. If we believe that God can take care of us and does provide for us, then we need to recognize that the money we have is from Him and that He can supply our every need as He sees fit.

Think About Results: Be Optimistic (9:12–15)
Paul explained to the Corinthians how their giving had many positive results. Not only would the needs of the Christians in Jerusalem be met but they would also give thanks to God because of the Corinthians’ generosity. This gift would also demonstrate their obedience to the gospel of Christ and result in the Jerusalem Christians praying for the Corinthian believers. When we are involved in giving of time, money, etc., we receive benefits as well. When we are involved in supporting missionaries, we also are involved in each of the people with whom they share the gospel. Everything that the people we support do for the sake of the gospel, we do as well. We may never know how our support was able to further the kingdom of God while we live here on earth, but when we get to heaven, we will be able to see the impact our giving had.

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