2 Corinthians 8:10–15; 9:1–5 comment (0)
March 20, 2014
By Catherine Lawrence
Related Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:10–15; 9:1–5
Bible Studies for Life
Department of Religion, Samford University
Put Your Money to Work
2 Corinthians 8:10–15; 9:1–5
This week’s lesson continues our focus on giving. Christians have the opportunity to give generously from our incomes to support the work of God’s kingdom. Generous giving is a response to God’s generous love for us. Out of the rich and abundant grace we have received in Christ, we give.
As noted last week, these truths are made clear in 2 Corinthians 8:1–9:15. Here Paul wrote to the Corinthian church about its participation in a collection being taken up among the Gentile churches to aid poverty-stricken believers in Jerusalem. Earlier this church had eagerly committed itself to the task of giving to the collection, and yet the believers had not finished the task. The apostle thus encouraged the Corinthians (and by extension all believers) in their giving by attempting to spur them into action.
Paul exhorted the Corinthian church to follow through on its commitment to participate in the collection. Apparently the believers at Corinth had expressed their desire to participate in the collection a year earlier and had even begun to collect money (8:10–11; 9:2). Yet for some reason they had not finished the task. Paul therefore urged the Corinthians to let their initial eagerness to give be matched by their actual giving (8:11).
Though their desire to give was commendable, still the believers must complete the giving itself. By doing so, the Corinthian church would make good on its promise to contribute to the collection (9:5) and would spare both themselves and Paul the embarrassment of Paul being proved wrong in his boasting to the Macedonians of the Corinthians’ readiness to give (9:2–4).
Paul continued to exhort the Corinthian believers by addressing the relative amount of their giving. The apostle assured the Corinthians they only needed to give in accordance with what they had rather than with what they did not have (8:12). The fact that Paul addressed this particular issue suggests it was a point of concern for the Corinthians, and it perhaps was the reason the Corinthians had not finished their giving. In other words, the Corinthians may have worried that their contribution to the collection, given in accordance with their means, was too small. But Paul explained that having the desire to give and then giving according to one’s means is acceptable to God, regardless of the resulting size of the gift.
The apostle further clarified to the Corinthians that the collection was not intended to be burdensome to them. That is, the point of the collection was not to provide relief for others while leaving the Corinthians with less. Rather the Corinthians’ present abundance would help to balance out others’ needs, and later, if the need arose, others’ abundance would balance out the Corinthians’ needs (8:13–14). In this way, all needs would be met.
Paul had boasted to the Macedonians of the Corinthians’ eagerness to give to the collection. In fact, the Corinthians’ zeal to give had stirred the Macedonians also to give (9:2). Likewise in 2 Corinthians 8:1–5 Paul had noted the example of the Macedonians’ generous giving in difficult circumstances in order to motivate the Corinthians to finish their own giving.
It seems the eagerness of the Corinthians and the generosity of the Macedonians each served as an encouragement to the other. These passages offer no hint that either group sought to promote itself by its giving. Rather the genuine desire to participate in the collection and the generosity that flowed from that desire simply proved to be a winsome encouragement to others to do the same.
May Christians today not underestimate the potentially powerful influence our own faithful and generous giving may have upon others. As we give to the work of God’s kingdom out of the abundant grace we have received, others sometimes take notice and are encouraged in their own giving by our example.