Let’s read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
G-d is generous. When he sees a need He moves. At the heart of this passage is ‘grace’. Grace is related to generosity, and it involves giving. G-d’s grace is there for us to receive.
His grace is related to His generosity (John 3:16). That same generosity, that He has, should be demonstrated through us toward others. G-d gives, and the people of G-d should also give generously.
v1: Brethren: Referring to the Corinthian believers.
- The grace of G-d: G-d’s grace involves giving towards a need (our need for salvation, our need for forgiveness, etc). When some translations interpret this word for grace, they translate it as ‘gift’. Grace is not given out of obligation, social pressures or because someone deserves it. Grace is given out of a generous spirit that looks to another and sees a need. It stirs within us an urgency or a strong desire to meet that need. This grace is a part of our new nature. It is part of our regeneration by the Spirit of G-d. One of the effects of being generous toward others is that G-d then provides us with joy in our lives (see 2 Cor 8:2).
- Bestowed (literally: -Been given in the churches of Macedonia): These congregations in Macedonia had displayed the grace of G-d by giving. Paul had lifted up the Corinthian congregation to others and now we see that he also upheld the Macedonian congregations as an example for others to follow. Being generous gives evidence that the grace of G-d is working in our lives.
v2: Abundance of their joy: Even though they were suffering much they had an abundance of joy because they were congregations who gave generously. G-dly joy overcomes sadness, despair and hardship.
- Deep poverty: They were profoundly poor materially. Being poor did not stop them from being generous. Their poverty was not more powerful than the grace of G-d in their lives.
- Abounded: Referring to the work of the grace of G-d in their lives.
- Riches of their liberality: This means that which is exceeding, goes beyond. Their generosity was rich in light of their poverty. What excited Paul was to see Messiah being manifested in the lives of others – in this case, they were manifesting the generosity of G-d.
v3: Bear Witness: Have proof. There was evidence that these congregations in Macedonia were suffering affliction/tribulation for their faith. They were not a group of people who were enjoying a life of luxury.
- Ability: Power
- Beyond their ability: They had a few resources that they were able to give, but they went beyond their ability. Paul testified to this. He knew first hand that they were generous.
- Freely willing: They had a desire, and they chose of themselves to behave in this way. Paul didn’t pressure them into giving. When they saw an opportunity to participate in the ministry of G-d they wanted to do so – not just according to their ability but beyond their ability. This kind of behaviour should not be the exception for believers, but it should be the norm.
v4: Imploring: Beseeched. Pleaded
- That we would receive the gift (literally: grace): The Macedonian churches pleaded with Paul and his companions to receive the gift (something unmerited, undeserved, not asked for) that they had.
- Fellowship: Participation. They wanted to share in the ministry. What motivated them was that they wanted to share the grace of G-d while they participated in the ministry to the saints (other believers – near or far)
v5: Gave themselves: They gave of themselves (time, talents, resources) generously – beyond what was expected or hoped for.
- (First) to the L-rd: They understood that this giving was first and foremost unto G-d (see Matt 25:34-40 as to how we can give to the L-rd).
- L-rd: They recognised and submitted to His L-rdship in their lives.
- By the will of G-d: They wanted to participate in the will of G-d.
v6: Titus: Titus was a fellow servant with Paul and was someone who G-d used mightily. Titus was constantly bringing reports back to Paul about what was going on in these congregations that Paul had started, or that he had ministered in or taught in.
- Grace: Gift. This gift also had implications for Titus’s ministry. He would go back to Corinth and complete what he had begun there.
- In you: Referring to the Corinthians.
v7: You abound in everything: Paul is testifying that they have a pleasing testimony. The truth that Paul had imparted to them had taken root and abundantly produced that which is pleasing to G-d.
- Speech: The words that they spoke
- Diligence: Being diligent means understanding what is urgent and responding quickly to it.