2 Corinthians 8:1-6
2 Cor 8:1 (KJB)
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
To wit - Make known or reveal
Bestowed - Given or entrusted
Paul now switches subjects in chapters eight and nine where he now discusses the subject of worshipful giving. Giving is one of the greatest dynamics of the Christian faith. Paul lays down some guidelines and shows how some of the brethren were able to help the other brethren. Sometimes when a brother or sister hits on hard financial times, it is not only a testing program for them, but is also a testing program for the Christians they associate with, that is, will their fiends help them or turn a deaf ear to them. Paul was informing the Corinthians church of the great gift of the grace of giving that God had bestowed upon the churches of Macedonia. Those churches in Macedonia probably included Berea, Philippi, and Thessalonica.
2 Cor 8:2 (KJB)
How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
Great - Much
Trial - Tribulation
Deep - Deep as in extreme
Poverty - A state of destitution
Liberality - Generosity
One of the great dynamics of Christianity is the seeming paradox of giving. When we truly trust the Lord for our finances, we will not be hesitant to help others out, even if it means giving out of a state of poverty. It is at that time when we truly show that we are trusting the Lord for our finances rather than the few dollars in our pocket. Here Paul is telling the Corinthians that these churches had much trial and persecution, yet because of being true Christians, they had the joy of the Lord and coupling that with deep poverty, it abounded in a spirit of generosity. This scenario is a testimony of true Christianity as these early Christians helped each other and the ones who helped were probably as poor as the ones being helped, yet because of their trust in the Lord, they were able to give out of a spirit of generosity rather than being stingy or just plain cheap. How many Christians today have the spirit of giving? How many make lame excuses when an opportunity for giving has come to them? One thing I learned as a young Christian some years ago from a sermon by Dr. Charles Stanley entitled, “Giving: An Opportunity or an Obligation?” How you view giving will determine what type of giver you will be? You will either see it as an opportunity to serve the Lord or you will see it as an obligation which you, deep down, hate to fulfill.
2 Cor 8:3 (KJB)
For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
I bear record - I bear witness
Willing of themselves - Self-chosen or voluntary
Here Paul speaks of their testimony that they were more than willing, of themselves, without an appeal from Paul, to help with finances. He says they gave beyond their power or ability to do so. Those in deep poverty must dig deeper than others and these Christians of Macedonia were more than willing to contribute. Giving is an interesting thing because it seems those who have much give the least and those who have the least give the most. This can be seen in percentage giving. For example, a millionaire who has 10 million dollars in the bank gives a gift of $50,000. Someone who has $2,000 in the bank and gives a gift of $500. Who gave more? Well first glance tells us the millionaire gave way more than the poor person, but did he? A gift of $50,000 from someone who has 10 million dollars means they gave ˝ of 1%. The person who gave $500 from $2,000 means they gave 25%. So in reality who gave the bigger gift according to their faith? It was the person who gave the $500. Let us say that both of these were Christians and a fund was being set up to build a new church building. Whose name would go on top of the plaque? The Lord Jesus even had something to say about those who give from abundance. (Luke 21:4 KJV) For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had. The widow’s mite had more meaning to the Lord than those who gave out of their abundance. Never despise the idea of giving a small gift in good faith.
2 Cor 8:4 (KJB)
Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
Entreaty - Urging
Here we have the true essence of Christian giving. Paul did not beg the Macedonians to give a gift rather it was the Christians of Macedonia who had urged Paul to receive the gift. The Macedonian Christians had so willingly gave a gift because they wanted to share in the helping of the needy brethren. These Christians had caught on to the idea of ministering to the needs of the Saints. They had insisted that Paul take the money with him to the needy Saints in Jerusalem. These Macedonian Christians were poor themselves, so they knew what that hardship was all about and could well identify with it.
2 Cor 8:5 (KJB)
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
This verse gives the order of how a true gift should be taken. First of all, those in the Macedonian churches had given themselves over totally to the Lord, that is, they were completely devoted to Him. If a Christian is not devoted to the Lord, there would be no sense in making a donation, because giving money does not bring a person closer to the Lord especially if they are not fully committed. Their method of giving was also according to the will of God. So we can see that first of all a person must be dedicated to the Lord and then do works. So here we see a plain aspect of the will of God. So many claim they cannot find the will of God for their lives yet here is an aspect of God’s will in plain sight.
2 Cor 8:6 (KJB)
Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
Since it was Titus that had begun the work among the Corinthians, Paul wanted him to finish the task he had begun. Here the task that Titus would partake of would be taking a collection from the Corinthian church to the needy in Jerusalem. This collection was probably delayed because of the trouble in Corinth caused by those who opposed Paul but now things were getting back on track and he wanted the Corinthians to experience the dynamic of giving to help needy brethren.