Macedonia is a hero of generous giving. The generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pledge to contribute then fulfill it. Proper handling of contributions. [UPDATED]
SUMMARY: The believers in Macedonians were heroes of stewardship. They gave so generously that it required great sacrifice on their part. They saw the opportunity to give as a grace from God as well as a ministry. They prioritized their giving projects. They became a role model for others.
VERSE 1. Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia,
An extraordinary outpouring of God’s grace was given to the church in Macedonia.
VERSE 2. how in much proof of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their generosity.
in much proof of affliction. As a group, they were in the midst of a very severe trial.
the abundance of their joy. They were a people of joy.
their deep poverty. They were in extreme poverty.
abounded to the riches of their liberality. They exhibited rich generosity in their giving. In other words, they gave to the extent that it was sacrificial.
However, whether we have that gift or not, we are still called to the spirituality of giving. We are called to give away some of our money.
We are to give generously and cheerfully. We are to give regularly. We are to give to poor people and anyone who asks. And we are to support those who lead us in our faith.
VERSE 3. For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord,
according to their power. They gave as much as they were able.
beyond their power. They gave beyond their ability. They gave sacrificially.
of their own accord. Their giving was of their own initiative. Paul did not pressure them into it.
VERSE 4. begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints.
begging us with much entreaty. They urgently pleaded for the privilege of giving to this cause.
to receive this grace. To have a worthy cause to contribute to is a gift from God. It is a joy, not a burden.
the fellowship in the service to the saints. Their giving would be a ministry to the Lord’s people.
VERSE 5. This was not as we had expected, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God.
not as we had expected. The Macedonians exceeded anything Paul could have hoped for.
first they gave their own selves to the Lord. Their first priority in financial giving was “to the Lord.” That probably means needs in their local community.
and to us. Their second priority in financial giving was to this cause that Paul is discussing.
These phrases suggest prioritizing our financial stewardship like this:
- First, we give to our local community and to those who “feed” us spiritually.
- Second, we give to those who look to us to “feed them.”
VERSE 6. So we urged Titus, that as he had made a beginning before, so he would also complete in you this grace.
we urged Titus. Paul dispatched Titus to go to Corinth and take delivery of their gift.
VERSE 7. But as you abound in everything, in faith, utterance, knowledge, all earnestness, and in your love to us, see that you also abound in this grace.
as you abound in everything. They excelled in every possible way.
see that you also abound in this grace. Paul challenges them to excel in this matter of financial giving.
VERSE 8. I speak not by way of commandment, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity also of your love.
not by way of commandment. Paul is not commanding them.
but as proving … the sincerity … of your love. Paul is testing the sincerity of their love.
through the earnestness of others. Paul would compare the excellence of their giving with that of the Macedonians.
As we have seen, the Macedonians were the heroes of generous giving.
SUMMARY: Our Lord Jesus Christ gave up the magnificent splendor of eternity to come to our world. He sacrificed everything to be the sacrifice that takes away our sins.
VERSE 9. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.
NIV translation: 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.
This verse is fantastic! Would you consider memorizing it? More great verses to memorize from Second Corinthians.
the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. The generosity of our Lord Jesus Christ exceeds any other manifestation of generosity that we can imagine.
though he was rich. The Lord Jesus dwelt in the magnificent splendor of the realm of eternity. That was a richness beyond our human abilty to comprehend.
yet for your sakes he became poor. Jesus gave up the infinite riches of eternity in order to come to our limited realm of the time-space continuum. He become Incarnate as a man and was born in the Middle East. He lived his life in poverty, and was tortured and executed as a criminal.
that you through his poverty might become rich. Jesus did all this out of love, love for you and me. His death was the sacrifice that takes away our sins.
SUMMARY: We make a pledge to financially contribute. And then we fulfill it. However, if our income goes up, we contribute more than we pledged. But if our income goes down, we downgrade our giving.
VERSE 10. I give a judgment in this: for this is expedient for you who were the first to start a year ago, not only to do, but also to be willing.
to be willing. The believers in Corinth were the first to desire to give to this project.
VERSE 11. But now complete the doing also, that as there was the readiness to be willing, so there may be the completion also out of your ability.
now complete the doing. Now it is time for them to act on their intention. They are to fulfill their pledge to give.
also out of your ability. They are to give according to their ability. Perhaps their life situation is similar to what it was a year ago when they made their pledge. If so, they should fulfill it.
But perhaps their situation has changed. If they have greater income now, they should give according to that greater income. Or perhaps they have less income now. They should give according to that lesser income.
VERSE 12. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what you have, not according to what you don’t have.
it is acceptable according to what you have. Our giving should correlate to our current actual income. If our income has gone up, we should contribute according to that higher income.
not according to what you don’t have. We are not obliged to give at a higher level if our income has declined. If our income is zero, then we are not obliged to give money at all.
Some churches require their members to sign contracts that they will contribute a certain amount each month.
However, if the member becomes unemployed, their church might require them to continue contributing as per the “contract” they were required to sign.
That is far too binding. People are to be free. Their giving is to be a joy, and not a burden.
VERSE 13. For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed,
VERSE 14. but for equality. Your abundance at this present time supplies their lack, that their abundance also may become a supply for your lack; that there may be equality.
VERSE 15. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
SUMMARY: Paul insisted on the proper handling of funds. The collection would be taken up and delivered in a manner that would withstand external scrutiny. It would never be in the presence of one lone individual, no matter how well-respected that individual is. Rather, there must always be at least two people.
the heart of Titus. Titus is as concerned for the wellbeing of the believers in Corinth as Paul himself is.
VERSE 17. For he indeed accepted our exhortation, but being himself very earnest, he went out to you of his own accord.
he went out to you of his own accord. Paul had asked Titus to go to Corinth. Titus only welcomed the invitation, but he went with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative.
VERSE 18. We have sent together with him the brother whose praise in the Good News is known throughout all the assemblies.
together with him the brother. Titus did not go to Corinth alone. He was accompanied by somebody that Paul does not name.
This person was well-known to the churches, and was one of Paul’s missionary coworkers.
VERSE 19. Not only so, but he was also appointed by the assemblies to travel with us in this grace, which is served by us to the glory of the Lord himself, and to show our readiness.
appointed by the assemblies to travel with us. The congregations appointed this person to travel with Titus and their donations.
VERSE 20. We are avoiding this, that any man should blame us concerning this abundance which is administered by us.
We are avoiding this. If people perceive that Titus could possibly steal their abundant collection, irreparable damage would be done. The integrity of the collection would be destroyed.
Even if Titus were to deliver their contribution as promised, the damage would be irreversible.
It is not a question of honesty, but of accountability.
VERSE 21. Having regard for honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
Paul would not trust the integrity of the collection to a lone individual. Instead, Paul insisted on the proper handling of funds. The collection would be taken up and delivered in a manner that would withstand external scrutiny.
In our day, many churches are gravely remiss in this matter. The collection is taken up by several ushers, who accumulate it into one basket. Then one lone usher walks the collection out of sight. Or the collection is carried away after the services by the minister alone.
Paul would not permit such practices. He insisted on the contributions being handled by two (or more) people at all times.
This matter is an important criteria for us as donors to various organizations. Does each organization handle donations in a way that would withstand external scrutiny?
VERSE 22. We have sent with them our brother, whom we have many times proved earnest in many things, but now much more earnest, by reason of the great confidence which he has in you.
VERSE 23. As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for you. As for our brothers, they are the apostles of the assemblies, the glory of Christ.
VERSE 24. Therefore show the proof of your love to them before the assemblies, and of our boasting on your behalf.
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