The Collection for the Lord’s People
8 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
Titus Sent to Receive the Collection
16 Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 19 What is more, he was chosen by the churches to accompany us as we carry the offering, which we administer in order to honor the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We want to avoid any criticism of the way we administer this liberal gift. 21 For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man.
22 In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker among you; as for our brothers, they are representatives of the churches and an honor to Christ. 24 Therefore show these men the proof of your love and the reason for our pride in you, so that the churches can see it.
I think this chapter could be summed up with this verse from Matthew
Matthew 6:21; “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
In his letters to the church at Corinth the apostle Paul was encouraging them, along with other Gentile churches, to give to help with the needs of the Jerusalem believers. They were going through extremely difficult times financially because of the persecution from the Jews living in Jerusalem. They had been excommunicated from the synagogues because they believed that Jesus was the messiah. Their businesses failed because of the national disinheritance. Paul encouraged the Gentile Christians to help with this great need in Jerusalem by putting aside a gift for the Jerusalem fund. Probably a year earlier these believers at Corinth had said they would like to help, and made a start. Now they needed a little encouragement to continue with their commitment.
Paul repeats the word for “grace” several time in this chapter. “The grace of God” (v. 1). In the context he is concerned with the activity of grace.
Paul argues that the subject of giving to the needs of the saints in Jerusalem is an activity of grace. It is something beautiful and lovely. The source of their activity is the grace of God, which produced an attitude of joy. It is an act of grace when it comes from the heart.
Paul says that the subject of giving to the needs of the saints in Jerusalem is an activity of grace. It is something beautiful. The source of their activity is the grace of God, which produced an attitude of joy.
It is an act of grace when it comes from the heart.
The Macedonian Christians Paul talks about were extremely poor Much of the poverty came because the Roman government had taken over the gold and silver mines in Macedonia. They also taxed the copper and iron smelting industry. No longer could they use the trees for the construction of ships. They lived in difficult days. However, in the midst of severe trial, they gave generously and with joy, simply for the pleasure and honor of giving.
There is so much we could talk about in this chapter, but if we can remember this basic principle; God owns the world and everything in it. This includes our money and possessions. How are we being generous with God’s money to our brothers and sisters in need? Are we giving with joy, or out of obligation? or not at all? There is a source of joy in giving, let’s be thankful today that we all have the ability to give!
Lord, thank you for your provision. Forgive us when our hearts turn selfish and we want to hang on to what is yours. Help us to have the desire to give to those in need and find that incredible source of joy in doing so. Thank you for the privilege of being able to so so. In Jesus name, amen.