We’re continuing to look at Paul’s exhortation on giving in his letter to the Corinthian church. A while earlier they had promised to give an offering to the churches in Judea who were experiencing a famine.
He’s now encouraging them to continue with their plans. In my last couple of posts, Paul gave testimony about the giving of the Macedonian churches.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.
2 Corinthians 8:8-9
In listening to Paul’s words, we can get a fresh perspective of how offerings work; or at least how they should work. Remember, he’s talking about offerings and not tithes at this point. (Tithes are the first 10%; offerings are over and above that point.)
What we have to realize is that Paul is an apostle, called by God to establish and maintain the churches under his care. As such, he had the authority to command them, if that was God’s will.
However, he made it clear that he was not commanding them. Offerings must be given out of love, not obedience or guilt.
He wanted them to prove themselves. Paul wanted them to see their love in comparison to others. According to the apostle, the true test is the speed at which you fulfill your promise.
But now we come to the verse that brings on many arguments. Paul uses Christ, Himself, as an example.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:9
The words used for poor/poverty and rich are very important. First, both the words poor and poverty means being absolutely and publically impoverished. I believe that hanging naked on a cross is the definition of this.
On the other hand, rich means to be abounding in money and possessions. That’s where the problem comes in. I can hear it now. “Oh no! Another prosperity preacher.”
I do believe that God wants His people to prosper but listen to the Biblical definition. True Biblical prosperity means that God abundantly supplies all I need to fulfill what He’s called me to do. Then, on top of that, He blesses me with even more so that I can be a blessing to others.
But I digress. The issue is about the willingness to give. Paul gives a summary of this thought.
And here is my advice 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. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
2 Corinthians 8:10-12
Question: What are your attitudes toward the giving of offerings?
© 2020 Nick Zaccardi