Encouragement to Give Generously
8 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 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 by his poverty might become rich. And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
Commendation of Titus
But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men.
2 Corinthians 8 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The comparison of one to another can backfire in hopes the person being compared will hear the challenge and respond. The individual digs in their heels and thinks, “There’s no way I’m going to do this or that.” Other times comparisons can motivate and challenge toward what we would call, ‘shaping up’. The comparison works and striving toward improvement in some area follows.
Paul praises the churches in Macedonia for their giving even out of their poverty. These churches saw the church at large and the needs that were abundant. There had been an ongoing collection for the people back in Jerusalem and these smaller churches had really given generously. The churches located in Philippi, Thessalonica and Berea, even though poor themselves had given toward the need beyond Paul’s expectation. It was sacrificial on every level.
And so Paul challenges the Corinthians own giving:
“But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also.”2 Corinthians 8:7
He was laying out before them that it was not about them. It was about the building up of the Body of Christ – and in this case, it was a plea for that across the region. The point in their giving was not so much the amount that would be collected, thus the comparison to the poorer churches, but the attitude they held in regards to it. He desired them to see that all they did, not only from their faith and growing knowledge was important but also furthering the work of God. They were partners with these other congregations.
Look, the Kingdom of God spreads through many facets. Obviously, faith and sharing does this as it’s a testimony to the grace of God in our own lives. But as Paul makes the point here, it also is through their financial giving. In the context of this passage, he’s encouraging them to prove their love was sincere – which of course, when we love someone we want to give them all the things, all the tools to help them further.
“Therefore openly before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our reason for boasting about you.”2 Corinthians 8:24
2 Corinthians 8 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
Christians who believe the New Testament has little to say about financial giving have not really studied the Bible intently. Paul refers to giving money as ‘charis’ (or, grace) four times in this chapter. So, we should explore the reasoning behind this choice of language. Why does Paul view giving money as grace?
First, I don’t believe giving should be a commandment in the New Testament. In fact, I agree with those people who defend their lack of giving by stating that the New Testament never gives a tithing amount or percentage. They are exactly right. However, the troubling aspect of this statement is that this type of attitude actually exposes the heart of such a person. In other words, Jesus didn’t die so that He could get us to follow a bunch of rules. That kind of transactional Salvation is found only in the law. If you want to know an exact percentage of tithe, then go back to the Old Testament, but I highly doubt you want to live your life obligated to such a standard when Jesus has come with grace and freedom!
This is why it is unnecessary to provide a commandment for tithing in the New Testament. If you have to command someone to do it, they probably don’t understand grace. Commanding others to give money is called taxation. First-century Jews were very familiar with Roman taxation. So, what happened in the New Testament that changes this mindset? Jesus said if you love me, you will obey my commands. Love came first. The motivation of our love was sparked by grace. Paul agrees.
Now as you excel in everything—faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this grace. 8 I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love.2 Corinthians 8:7-8 HCSB
The grace of Jesus was given freely without compulsion. Someone who chooses to give financially demonstrates the grace of Jesus working in their heart. Gratitude overflows into generosity and giving becomes something we love to do instead of a tedious chore we feel obligated to do. Consider the fact that Jesus did not give Himself expecting anything back in return. Yes, we obey Him out of love, but the truth is, we could never do anything to “pay Jesus back” for His grace. Grace demonstrates the purest form of love. If we give out of any other motive, we have missed the meaning of grace!
Dear Christians, please stop using the phrase, “Jesus never commanded us to tithe.” Jesus demonstrated with His actions the attitude we should follow with everything in life – financial giving included. How can we be partakers in the grace of Jesus and then selfishly justify our lack of generosity? The reality is that everything you have belongs to Jesus anyway. If you don’t want to give financially, that is between you and God, but don’t compound the problem by justifying it with Scripture! It only illustrates a misunderstanding of the grace of Jesus.