2 Corinthians 8:1-7 – “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. 7 But as you abound in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us — see that you abound in this grace also.” NKJV
Charity, generosity, and giving are an integral part of the biblical message and mandate. I would suggest that it is impossible to study the Bible without being confronted with the subject of giving. In considering the historical setting for this passage, we realize that one of the major ministries or efforts of Paul’s third missionary journey was gathering special relief offerings for the poor Christians in Judea. He had done this before as we see in Acts 11 and now he feels directed of the Spirit of God to do it again. It is interesting to note that Paul cited a forgotten beatitude in Acts 20:35, “…It is more blessed to give than to receive.” I would suggest there was more than just gathering relief funds in Paul’s efforts and can see at least three additional desires in his heart.
- He wanted this offering to Strengthen the Unity of the Church as the Gentile congregations shared with the Jewish congregations across the sea.
- He wanted this Evidence for the Jewish churches to prove that neither he nor the Gentile congregations were enemies.
- He Hoped that the Generosity of the Gentiles would silence the apparent jealousy of the Jewish Christians.
The problem surfaced that the church at Corinth was not doing its part. They had made promises but failed to keep them. In fact, an entire year had been wasted (v.10). What caused the delay? It was the spiritual condition of the church at Corinth. Their spiritual temperature was incredibly low. A rule of thumb, I have found, is when a church is not spiritual they are not generous. Likewise, when a person’s spiritual temperature is low their generosity also lessens. Another cause was the invasion of the Judaizers, who frequently siphoned off as much money as they could. So Paul saw a problem. He addressed it using nine (9) different words to refer to this offering, but the one used most was GRACE. He informed them that “giving” was truly a ministry of GRACE and FELLOWSHIP. (v.4) The ministry of helping others is vital but its motivation must be from the Grace of God. I have witnessed and participated in GRACE GIVING and there is nothing which provides more joy and strength to the life and church than this.
Let me pose a question for your consideration: “How Can We Know We Are Practicing Grace Giving?” I did not ask how we can know we are giving but our giving is GRACE GIVING. Paul uses several pieces of evidence which are evidenced when our giving is motivated by GRACE.
Although I hesitate to do so, I will pause here and consider these pieces of evidence in our next devotional. Until then, may the LORD give you an overflow of His grace, peace, provision and power! Blessings abundantly!