2 Cor. 8:1-8
Money is usually a delicate topic to handle in the Church. It is one topic that causes embarrassment to lots of Christians specially when we talk about giving. Paul here is giving us probably the best example on how to give and make use of our money. Macedonia was the Northern Roman Province
of Greece. Churches there includes churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. Macedonia is an impoverished province ravaged by many wars and also being plundered by Roman authority and commerce. They experienced the grace of God (His unmerited favor) in the person of Paul and his proclamation of the gospel. The believers in these places suffered because of their faith (Phil. 1:29- 30; 1 Thess. 1:6), but they remained steadfast (Phil. 1:5; 1 Thess. 1:7). The generosity of the Macedonians is the role model Paul is presenting to the Corinthians and us when it comes to giving.
Illustration 1: Misers
John G. Wendel and his sisters were some of the most miserly people of all time. Although they had received a huge inheritance from their parents, they spent very little of it and did all they could to keep their wealth for themselves.
John was able to influence five of his six sisters never to marry, and they lived in the same house in New York City for 50 years. When the last sister died in 1931, her estate was valued at more than $100 million. Her only dress was one that she had made herself, and she had worn it for 25 years.
The Wendels had such a compulsion to hold on to their possessions that they lived like paupers. Even worse, they were like the kind of person Jesus referred to “who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:21). Daily Walk, June 2, 1993
I. How did the Macedonians give? 2 (Cor. 8: 1-5)
1. They are in the midst of their affliction
2. They are experiencing poverty themselves. Deep poverty here means the most severe type of economic deprivation, the kind that caused a person to become a beggar.
3. Yet they gave “beyond their power” (2 Cor. 3a). They gave beyond their ability. They gave more than they were able to give.
B. They gave joyfully – 2 Cor. 8:2
1. Despite of their great affliction, the churches of Macedonia were overflowing
with joy; even though they were in deep poverty and were utterly poor. In spite
of this they still were going to collect an offering to further the kingdom of God.
The gift that they gave was nothing more than the widow’s mite but God saw
the sincerity of their heart and that’s all that matters
2. Perhaps they have already learned that it is more blessed to give than to
receive. (Acts 20:35).
3. In any case, this is the kind of giving that God loves – 2 Cor. 9:7
C. They gave voluntarily (2 Cor. 8:3)
1. In willingness. Not grudgingly.
a. God’s people are not to give out of manipulation, compulsion, or
b. People must only give freely as it is written in the Word of God (Deut.
16:10, 17, 1 Chr. 29:9, Prov. 3:9,10: 11:24, Lk. 19:1-8
c. We cannot command or oblige people to give against their will. (2 Cor. 8:8)
d. If the above was not followed, then it is better not to give.
D. They gave themselves
1. These people were so poor that they literally gave themselves to God. In
searching for a gift to give, they signed themselves up as an offering and gave
the Lord their best. These people loved God and they were not going to allow
their poorness to hinder their service. The ultimate gift that a person can give is the gift of themselves, God did this when he gave us Jesus, he gave his all.
2. When a person does this, they do not worry about “the cost of giving”. For they have the promise of Jesus in Mt. 6:25-34
3. Having given themselves first to the Lord, giving to others is no longer difficult.
a. For such is a mark of true discipleship – Jn 13:34-35
b. And it is a mark of true love for God – 1 Jn 4:20-21
E. They gave beyond expectation (2 Cor. 8:5)
1. “Not as what we have hoped for”
2. The apostles expect a small amount only because of their poverty and
afflictions, however, the little amount collected if there is, is still more than the
Illustration 2: God Uses Bigger Shovel
The story is told of a good farmer who loved the Lord and believed in stewardship. He was generous indeed, and was asked by his friends why he gave so much and yet remained so prosperous. “We cannot understand you,” his friends said. “Why, you seem to give more than the rest of us, and yet
you always seem to have greater prosperity.”
“Oh,” said the farmer, “that is easy to explain. You see, I keep shovelling into God’s bin, and God keeps shovelling more and more into mine, and God has the bigger shovel.”
—Herbert Lockyer Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
II. To Whom they gave
A. Paul is not raising funds for himself or his ministry here. He is not seeking
contributions so the church can build an addition or pay its bills. Paul is not even seeking to raise funds for missions or evangelism. Paul is talking about one of the most important forms of giving in the New Testament, one not nearly as common today, giving to saints who are in dire poverty in Jerusalem. Why Jerusalem?
B. When Paul arrived in Corinth and preached the gospel there, a number of the Corinthians come to faith in Jesus Christ. They became spiritual children of the Apostle Paul. It seems that in their joy and gratitude, like many other churches, they purpose to make a contribution to the poor in Jerusalem. Titus apparently has already been to Corinth to help them commence a plan by which a contribution for the poor in Jerusalem will be raised over a period of time. In 1 Cor. 16:1-4, Paul gives some instructions to the Corinthians about their plan to give to the poor in Jerusalem.
III. It proved their love (2 Corinthians 8:6-8).
A. “Insomuch that we desired Titus… finish in you the same grace also” (2 Cor. 8:6): The generosity of the Macedonian Christians inspired Paul to exhort Titus to return to Corinth and see that all the Corinthian pledges of help were paid before the apostle returned (Acts 20:1-3). Intentions to give must be finished, or completed.
The “grace” of giving is a gift from God, we all may cultivate this grace!
B. “Therefore… abound in this grace also” (2 Cor. 8:7): Paul exhorts the Corinthians to add the grace of giving to their many gifts (1 Cor. 4:7; 12:1-14:40). He does not command them to give, but uses the example of the Macedonians as a “means of comparison” to test the love of the Corinthians by it (verse 8). “A collection is a test of one’s love for Christ, not the only test, but a real one!” The grace of giving completes the graces of Christian character. It is love in its finest form!
Illustration 3: God Repays Spurgeon’s Gift to Muller
Charles H. Spurgeon once made a trip to Bristol, England, to preach in the three largest Baptist chapels there. He hoped to collect three hundred pounds which were needed immediately for his orphanage. He got the money.
Retiring to bed on the last night of his visit, Spurgeon heard a voice, which to him was the voice of the Lord, saying, “Give those three hundred pounds to George Muller.” “But, Lord, I need it for my dear children in London.” Again, came the words, “Give those three hundred pounds to Mr. Muller.”
It was only when he had said, “Yes, Lord, I will,” that sleep came to him.
The following morning, he made his way to Muller’s orphanage, and found Mr. Muller on his knees before his open Bible, praying. The famous preacher placed a hand on his shoulder and said, “George, God has told me to give you these three hundred pounds.” “Oh,” said George Muller, “dear Spurgeon, I have been asking the Lord for that very sum.” Then those two prayerful men rejoiced together.
Spurgeon returned to London, and on his desk, he found a letter awaiting him. He opened it and found it contained three hundred guineas. “There,” he cried with joy, “the Lord has returned my three hundred pounds with three hundred shillings interest.”
Encyclopedia of 15,000 Illustrations: Signs of the Times.
Truly, we must give part of what we have not only to the ministry but also for the needy Christians who really needs help. The question is will you do it? Will you show your love for the Lord by giving to people who are in need?