Grace for Giving
by Pastor Dave Mann
Today’s text is part of the Apostle Paul’s campaign to collect financial gifts from believers in Corinth and other cities in southern Europe and Asia Minor to send to the believing community in Jerusalem who were suffering from a famine. We in the 21st century can learn from Paul’s wise principles.
v. 8 -- Paul lays no guilt trip on the Corinthians to give. It is wholly voluntary. “I am not commanding you.”
v. 9 -- Paul’s appeal to give generously is based on the matchless grace of the Lord Jesus. We have already received far more than we could ever pay back. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor so that you through his poverty might become rich.”
vv.10-11 -- Paul acknowledges that the Corinthians have already shared generously in the past but urges them to do more to complete the work. “Last year you were the first... Now finish the work.”
v. 12 -- Though Paul challenges the Corinthians to give sacrificially, he does not push them to give beyond what they do not possess. Yes, the goal was ambitious, but it was not beyond what they could reach together. “The gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.”
v. 14 -- The Corinthians lived in a prosperous city with lots of commerce because of its strategic location with a busy seaport. We know that wealth comes and goes for many reasons. At the time of Paul’s writing, he was confident that the Corinthians were well-positioned to share their resources to help other believers in a time of need. “At the present time, your plenty...”
v. 15 -- Finally, Paul links his appeal in the spiritual history of God providing for the needs of his people with food even during their wilderness wanderings generations earlier. Paul quotes Exodus 16:13-18 where we are reminded of how the Lord miraculously provided meat and manna. “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
As an aside, I would like to remember that in Paul’s day, the books of the Holy Scripture were written on bulky scrolls. Because of their size and expense, very few people owned a complete set, and they certainly did not travel with them. Paul and the other writers of the New Testament must have had tremendous memories, just from hearing the Scriptures read during the weekly meetings in the synagogues, to find the appropriate passage to apply to their current situations.
Lord God, thank you for all that we have received from you. We also ask one more thing -- that you grant us a grateful and generous heart to share with you and others. In Jesus' name, Amen.