2 Corinthians 8:7; “But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us— see that you abound in this grace also.”
The apostle Paul never wants us to do something without understanding God’s reasons, implications and foundations of the “why” of God. It is interesting to see how the apostle Paul in the early church wanting them to understand what was to motivate their giving. You don’t want to just be “stirred up,” to do things and not know why. We want our motivation to be because of biblical truth, as a result of the understanding of biblical truth. We can’t hold on to our understanding and do nothing about it, we have the responsibility now to act on what we know.
Here in 2 Corinthians 8 the churches at Corinth are taking up a collection to send to the poor in Jerusalem. So here in the New Testament we are seeing firsthand how giving is supposed to be motivated.
First we see what Paul did not do.
He did not give a commandment. He didn’t say thou shalt give, or I’m telling you what to do and you must do it. In verse 8 he is being very specific with this statement, not to nullify the commandments of God concerning giving, but to outline for the Corinthians and us today what should be the motivation for giving:
8 I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. 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. 10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have.
Another thing that Paul is not saying is that, they can do whatever they want. He may not be commanding them, but also, he is not leaving it up them to come to an uninformed conclusion. Paul begins to arm them with understanding as to the cause and grace of giving which supersedes all the giving requirements that the Old Testament obligated the Jewish nation to. Giving which flows out of the Old Testament to the New Testament is now out of grace and generosity, not the “I got to do it or I get stoned,” mentality. Let us do note that God’s giving was always from His grace and generosity.
Paul says in vs. 1 look at the churches of Macedonia, the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea; look at what someone else who is in deep poverty and their motivation for giving. We know from history that Corinth was a prosperous city; much different from their brothers to the north of them. It’s like reading the biographers of other Christians and what God has done through them for the kingdom of God. This should stir our hearts to work harder for the kingdom of God.
Paul is saying to them, you know what has happened in these other towns, but what I what you to understand is that their giving was flowing out of the grace of God (vs. 1, 7) that was given to them, and which they abounded in.
Grace—the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude, benefit, favor, gift, grace, joy, liberality.
Abundance—surplus an excess, i.e. superabundance.
Abound—excelled, had more, enough to spare.
Paul here is saying that something extraordinary happened when God’s grace came upon them…that God released them into a dimension of giving that can only be explained by His grace. The Macedonian Christians, in spite of their extreme poverty, they did extra ordinary things to the point that they pleaded for the opportunity to give.
This is so unnatural, who does such a thing?
Those who have nothing, who live in such extreme poverty pleaded with the Apostle Paul to give. That’s crazy! How does that happen? Who in their right mind when they are very, very poor say let us give! How does that happen?
It happens when God’s grace comes upon people and changes and releases them. It comes and changes them setting them and us free from our natural tendency to horde because of your hardship, to give in spite of your adversity and lack of money.