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Christian mission teaching pastors in Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe

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Updated 3 June 2020

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Bible Studies

 

2 Corinthians 8

Early on in his ministry, Paul had agreed with the apostles, James, Peter and John, that he would remember the poor (Galatians 2:10). The background of this chapter is that there had been a famine and Paul had urged the churches to respond, by making an offering which he could collect when he visited the churches.

The Macedonian Churches

Paul commends the Macedonian churches for their generous response to his appeal to help the poor. Paul understood that these churches also had considerable need, but this did not stop them from responding sacrificially to the situation. The attitude of these people was remarkable. They did not consider giving a burden and they wanted to participate and help where they could.

Paul writes that the Macedonians did not do as he and his companions expected, but gave themselves first to the Lord and then to others, in keeping with God's will. This was a very powerful statement. The people believed that the first rule of giving was to give to God. A right relationship with God inspires the desire to give. If we give out of any other motive, it will not yield much blessing but, if our attitude to God is right, then He will bless us. The people responded to Paul because they saw how he had given himself to God. He was known as a man who did not want things for himself but for the Lord's work, so people were inspired to give to God and let Paul be the channel through which God would work.

The Grace of Giving

Paul commends the Corinthians for their faith and love and encourages them to excel in the grace of giving. Christian giving is precious and important and it is different to the way the world gives. God's grace is the main motivator for our giving. The more we seek God's grace, the easier it is for us to give to God's work.

The Grace of Christ

Paul now shares a very precious truth concerning the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor, so that we, through His poverty, might become rich! When Jesus left the glory of heaven to come to this earth, it was a tremendous change for Him. He was born in a stable; He was born into a nation that was despised and hated; He came to a world that had no electricity or piped water; He shared in the poverty of people in the world at that time and He knows what life is like for those still facing poverty in our world today. However, poverty cannot just be measured in material terms. We were all sinners and spiritually poor, so Jesus became sin for us when He died on the cross. Now, when we trust in Him, we become spiritually rich, we are forgiven and we become new creations in Christ!

Generosity

Paul makes the argument that, if Christ could do what He did for us in His coming, then we must be sure, out of gratitude for His forgiveness, to do what we can for others. The generosity of the Corinthians needed to be maintained. This was their time to respond and give, but there might come a time when they too would need to be helped by receiving charitable gifts and assistance from others. Godly principles of giving are not only about having a generous heart ourselves, but also about having a heart that is humble and willing to receive when we are in need.

Accountability

Paul again talks about Titus, who he valued very highly. Titus was coming with two faithful brothers in Christ to receive the Corinthians' gifts for the poor. These brothers had been chosen because of their faithful commitment to the gospel and they would work with Paul to administer the gifts in a way that was right, not only in the eyes of the Lord, but also in the eyes of men. These men were serving Christ and they needed to be loved and respected for the work they were doing. They were serving the Lord and not themselves!

Points to Consider:
  1. How do we respond to severe need in other parts of the world?
  2. What do you think it means to excel in the grace of giving?
  3. How thankful are we for the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ?
  4. As God's people, how generous are we and how willing are we to give?
  5. Paul organised the giving for the poor very well. What can we learn from his approach concerning the way in which we should be accountable to others?

God bless you!
Richard Brunton

Bible Study: 2 Corinthians 8

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