“Abounding in the Grace of Giving”

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2 Corinthians 8 1-7
v.1 Paul wants the church at Corinth to understand the generosity of the Macedonian churches. Macedonia was a Roman province. It was in the Northern part of Greece. Some of the well-known churches in this area were Philippi, Berea, and Thessalonica. Because of devastating wars in the region, it was a poor place. Regardless of their poverty, God had given them the grace to be a very giving group of churches (11:9, Phill. 4:15). The reason that Paul wanted the Corinthians to know about the generosity of these believers was to encourage them to model their behavior.
v.2 Despite their trying circumstances, the Macedonian saints continued to give.
In a severe test of affliction- They endured serious persecution because of their faith (Acts 17:1-9, 1 Thess. 2:14-15). Persecution usually affects one financially. Especially when it was the type the early church endured. In many areas Christians were social outcasts and perceived as rebels against the political structure. These things would certainly affect one’s income.
The abundance of their joy- The Macedonians were filled with joy in their trying circumstances. They did not let the trials they endured sap them of the joy of the Lord. They were satisfied with their salvation. In Christ, poor people, sick people, persecuted people, and anyone else can be happy. The Corinthians needed to learn this lesson.
Their extreme poverty- Paul describes the economic situation of the Macedonians as desperate. They were extremely poor. God calls everyone to give financially. A lack of finances does not give us a pass. The greatest example of a monetary gift in the Bible was given by a poor widow (Mark 12:41-44).
The wealth of their generosity- The Macedonians were liberal in their giving. This means that they gave abundantly. They recognized the importance of storing up treasure in heaven. God calls us all to give liberally. Liberality is not measured in an amount but by proportion. To some $1000 is not liberal, to others $100 is extremely liberal.
v.3 The Macedonians gave above and beyond their means to give. In other words, they gave till it hurt. Sacrificial giving is when we give more than we can afford to give. This does not suggest that we forsake obligations so we can give. We are bound by our own integrity to pay our bills and provide for our families. After the Macedonians did those things, they gave sacrificially to the ministry.
They also were willing to give. Paul had not manipulated the Macedonians. They gave freely from their own desire to support the ministry. Believers must give willingly. God sees the heart. Any unwilling offering we give to the Lord does not benefit us spiritually. It simply reveals our hypocrisy.
v.4 The Macedonians were begging with great urgency to participate in ministering to the saints. They wanted Paul to receive their gift. Paul knew how poor the believers in the region of Macedonia were. He knew they couldn’t afford to be as generous as they were being. Regardless of their poverty, they wanted Paul to take their money and use it to minister to saints who were poorer than they were. Their giving reflects the grace of God that was in their life. It seems odd that sometimes the poorest of saints are the most faithful in giving.
v.5 “Not as we expected” means that Paul was not expecting the level of generosity the Macedonians modeled. Paul now gives the reason they were so charitable. They “first gave themselves to the Lord.” We can get a couple of principles out of this statement.
First, a person must have given their life to the Lord to make their giving really count. If a person is not saved it does not matter how much money they give to the ministry. You cannot give your way into heaven. Salvation cannot be bought. Giving must be in response to salvation if we expect to benefit spiritually from it.
Secondly, we give generously when God has the priority in our life. The lordship of Christ is demonstrated by our actions. If He is Lord it will show. To many, finances are one of the last things they want to give Christ control over. When we give ourselves to the Lord, we bring our wallet with us. The Macedonians had surrendered their entire lives to the Lord.
The Macedonians also gave themselves to Paul and the other faithful leaders. It was “the will of God” that they do this (Hebrews 13:17). When leadership and congregation are living in the will of God there is no danger in this. They submitted themselves to Paul as their leader. They said in essence, “Paul we are at your disposal, tell us what you need.” Their humility reflected the lordship of Christ in their lives.
v.6 In 1 Corinthians Paul urged the Corinthians to give to the poor saints in Jerusalem (1 Cor. 16:1-3). Apparently, they had seemed excited about giving (2 Cor. 9:2). The willingness of those in Achaia (the Roman province where Corinth was located) is what provoked the Macedonians to be so generous. Titus had the responsibility of being the letter carrier to Corinth for the “severe letter” and 2 Corinthians. This may be what Paul means by the statement “as he had started” the work on them. It was through the letters that Titus attempted to finish what was started in the Corinthians. In other words, he hoped to see them follow through on their initial commitments. Paul wanted to see the grace of God evidenced in the lives of the Corinthians through faithful giving. God was using Titus as a messenger to accomplish this work in the Corinthians.
v.7 Paul commends the Corinthians for specific virtues that they are abounding in.
* Faith- the Corinthians genuinely trusted in the Lord. This was evidenced by their sincere sorrow over their sin (7:9). Faith is necessary for salvation (Ephesians 2:8-10). The Corinthians abounded in faith.
* Speech- the speech of the Corinthians reflected an abounding relationship with the Lord. We can not divorce the tongue from the heart. Jesus tells us that the tongue reflects the state of the heart (Matthew 12:33-37).
* Knowledge- the term used here speaks of one who knows something experientially. The Corinthians did not just know about Christ. They knew Him by experience. Their faith was manifested in works.
Paul is glad that the Corinthians have these abounding virtues in their life. However, he wants them to abound in the grace of giving as well. They had within their means to give to the work of the Lord. They should do it and do it abundantly.
Thoughts To Consider
1. Some of the godliest churches are in the most ungodly places.
2. There is never an excuse to be greedy.
3. Not all giving is sacrificial.
4. You don’t have to beg true believers to give to support the work of the Lord.
5. God expects us to give financially to further the gospel.
v.8 Paul was not commanding the Corinthians to give as the Macedonians gave. Paul wanted the Corinthians to learn about giving by the example of the eager giving of the Macedonians. They should use the example to prompt themselves to give. Such giving would prove that they have a sincere love for God and for the saints.
Giving must be voluntary if it is to please God. Nevertheless, true believers will be willing to give. The example of the faithful poor should encourage us to be faithful in our giving as well.
v.9 In verse eight Paul gives the example of the sacrificial giving of the poor Macedonian saints. In this verse he gives the supreme example of giving. He speaks of the incarnation of Christ. The most sacrificial gift ever offered was the life of the Lord Jesus. God gave us His greatest treasure so we could have eternal life.
God’s gift was given by grace. Grace is the unmerited favor of God. Notice that it is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Christ gave us Himself. He voluntarily laid down His life for our sins.
Why did He do this? Grace. Christ saw nothing in us that made us worthy of salvation. None of us deserve the gift of His life. When Christ looked upon us what moved Him was pity. He saw the helpless estate we were in and He was moved with compassion.
The title “Lord Jesus Christ” is rich with truth.
He is Lord of all. This term speaks of His sovereignty over humanity.
He is Jesus. The name means Savior. It highlights His humanity and sacrificial aspect. Through His death He rescues us from our sin.
He is Christ. Literally it means “anointed one”. He is our anointed King. This reveals the royalty of the Lord Jesus.
This one title reveals the deity, humanity and royalty of the Lord Jesus.
“Though He was rich” It goes without saying that Christ owns everything. He owns the material world. Everything you can see Christ owns. He also owns everything that is immaterial. He is the owner of all spiritual things because He is the Creator of everything physical and spiritual (Colossians 1:15-16). Christ has all of creation at His disposal.
“Yet for your sakes He became poor” The emphasis here must be understood as spiritual. It is true that Jesus was not rich while on this earth. He was born into a poor family. However, there were people in his culture far poorer than he was. Jesus was no beggar. He was a preacher who made His living through His ministry.
Jesus became spiritually poor for our sakes. He left the splendor of heaven. He laid aside the garments of Deity and robed Himself in humanity. Christ becoming man is far more humbling than a man willingly becoming a dog. The verses that most vividly describe the incarnation are Philippians 2:6-11.
“That you by His poverty might become rich” The incarnation and sacrifice of Christ offers humanity the opportunity to become spiritually rich. Because of the cross we may now be partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:3-4). God freely offers us the riches of His righteousness (5:21). Without Christ we would continue to be spiritually bankrupt for all eternity.
The Corinthians should heed the ultimate example of sacrificial giving. They should model the grace of the Lord Jesus. They should voluntarily give to others. They should give to the undeserving poor. If Christ could give His life, they could certainly give their money.
Thoughts To Consider
1. One of the greatest ways to encourage others to give is to model giving ourselves.
2. Giving should be motivated by grace not merit.
3. God became man.
4. Humanity benefited the most from the high price that Christ paid for our sins.
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