Skip to main content

Acceptable Giving: 2 Corinthians 8

In Summary:
One of the side works of Paul, in his missionary travels, was encouraging the churches to contribute to the needs of the poor, especially in Jerusalem. It is most likely that the primary concern was for those of the church who were in need—the typical social safety net in that era was family, and some families rejected the members who came to Jesus.

2 Corinthians 8 is primarily Paul’s encouragement to the church at Corinth to be generous and give greatly to the offering. He does so by highlighting how other churches had given and then pointing out how he would take good care of the gift, ensuring that it got where it was intended and was used how it was intended. 

The first point is made by bringing up the churches in Macedonia, bringing up that they had been very generous despite being poor. Some sources suggest that this was meant to play on the pride of Corinth, a “don’t let those people out do you” type of appeal. However, I wonder if we are reading modern sales tactics back on to Paul with this. Certainly, he makes the point that the Macedonians were not giving from an abundance of wealth, which would have removed an excuse by comparison. But we should be careful attempting to put our motivational principles into Paul’s context. Remember that Biblical Interpretation requires us to bring an understanding of the original context to the text. Our context goes into the application of the text.

Paul then informs the Corinthians that Titus and the “brother whose fame….has spread through the churches” (2 Corinthians 8:18) will be helping deliver the offering. The idea is that there will be proper care for the gift, that it will be used as intended, and that these named (and unnamed) men will be accountable for it. 

In Focus:
A good focal point comes right in the middle of the chapter: 2 Corinthians 8:12 makes the case that acceptable giving is based on what one has, not what one does not have.

From this, a reasonable extraction is that the Corinthians were delaying finishing the offering because they felt it was not good enough. Perhaps they had a higher goal, a larger amount they wanted to give, but the money just wasn’t there. It’s hard to make a certain statement from what little is here, but it would have been shameful in that culture to broadcast that you were making a big offering and then make a small one.

There’s something to be said for large amounts, but at many points in life, a little bit of real is better than a lot of intention.

In Practice:
Practically applied, of course, you can see where this is going. 

First, it’s true monetarily of your giving: just because your gift is smaller than someone else’s doesn’t mean it is useless. In fact, it takes every type of gift to make a project happen. A person in need of food can be fed by many hands with small gifts as well as by one large one.

Second, it’s also true of any other type of giving to a work of the ministry that comes before you. Do you have only a certain amount of time? Guess what? Giving from what you have is acceptable. Now, that, like with financial giving, comes with a caveat: a person who wastes hours should reconsider how they spend their time, just as one who wastes money should. If you are careless with your time and therefore cannot give to what God commands, are you any less sinful than one who wastes money on sinful pursuits?

And some acts of service require a minimum of time, but let’s stop making excuses based on the exceptions or partial situations. The real question for you and I, dear reader, is this:

Are we giving from what we have, be it time, energy, skill, wealth, commitment, or are we using the excuse that our gifts aren’t large enough, and so we do nothing?

Get going forward, and do that which God has given you to do!

In Nerdiness:
The whole unnamed brother thing bugs me. But it also makes this point: the man was so well-known that he needed no introduction, and now he’s anonymous. What does that make of the celebrity today?


Look at the overall thrust of Paul’s money handling guidelines. If followed, then the offering will be well looked after as well as guaranteed to be spent as intended. While the Macedonians helped support Paul as well (that’s what “gave themselves to me” means), he’s not asking Corinth to support him. Just to give to the mission, and he’ll take nothing. 

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Book Review: The Heart Mender by @andyandrews (Andy Andrews)

The Heart Mender: A Story of Second ChancesEver read a book that you just kind of wish is true?  That's my take on The Heart Mender by Andy Andrews.  It's a charming story of love and forgiveness, and it's woven into the historical setting of World War II America.  For the narrative alone, the book is worth the read, but the message it contains is well worth absorbing as well.However, let's drop back a minute.  This book was originally published under the title Island of Saints.  I read Island of Saints and enjoyed it greatly.  Now, Andrews has released it under a new title, with a few minor changes.  All of this is explained in the Author's Note at the beginning, but should be noted for purchaser's sake.  If you read Island of Saints, you're rereading when you read The Heart Mender.  Now, go ahead and reread it.  It will not hurt you one bit.Overall, the story is well-paced.  There are points where I'd like more detail, both in the history and the geog…

Abraham Lincoln Quoted by Jesus! Mark 3

Mark records a curious event in his third chapter (link). If you look at Mark 3:25, you'll see that Jesus quotes the sixteenth President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. After all, one of the highlights of the Lincoln years is his famous speech regarding slavery in the United States where he used the phrase that "a house divided against itself cannot stand." This speech was given in 1858 when he accepted the nomination to run against Stephen A. Douglas for Senate, but is still remembered as the defining speech regarding slaveholding in the United States. I recall being taught in school how brilliant and groundbreaking the speech was, how Lincoln had used such wise words to convey his thought. Yet the idea was not original to Lincoln. Rather, it was embedded in Lincoln from his time reading the Bible. Now, I have read varying reports about Lincoln's personal religious beliefs: some place him as a nearly completely committed Christian while others have him somewh…

Book: The Gospel Call and True Conversion

A quick note: This book, The Gospel Call and True Conversion, is currently available on Kindle for $4.99. This is the second in a series of 3, and the first, The Gospel’s Power and Message, is available for $2.99.The Gospel Call and True Conversion. The title of this book alone sounds intimidating, and adding that it’s written by one of the heavyweights of American Reformed Christianity, Paul Washer, does not lessen the intimidation factor. Washer is known to be a straightforward preacher—for good or for ill.What did I find in The Gospel call and True Conversion? I found some things to like:1. Paul Washer is passionate for the truth. He wants to know the truth. He wants to proclaim the truth. He wants the truth heard. He wants you to know the truth. This is good. It is good to see someone not try to base theology on popularity or as a response to modern events, but to base it clearly on truth. 2. There is a strong emphasis on the reality that true conversion (from the title) will resu…