Saturday, May 8, 2010

Giving Proves Love, Promotes Equality, And Prevents Shame: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24

Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24

Theme: Glory in Christ, not the flesh.

2. By giving to those in need (8-9).
     A. Giving proves your love (8:1-12)
     B. Giving promotes equality (8:13-15)
     C. Giving prevents shame (8:16 - 9:5)

Chapters 1-7 showed how weakness glorifies Christ rather than the flesh. Now, chapters 8-9 reveal why giving does the same. 

Giving proves your love (8:1-12). The Corinthians had promised to send a love offering to needy saints in Jerusalem (cf. 1 Corinthians 16:1-5). For whatever reason, they were not yet prepared to fulfill it. To encourage them, Paul gave the example of Macedonian believers and Christ.

The Macedonians gave even though they were in poverty, and gave first of themselves, then their money (1-6). Christ, though He is equal to God, yielded His rights, and came to earth in the form of a servant, so that we, through His poverty (death on the cross), might become spiritually rich (9; cf. Philippians 2:6-11). Since the Corinthians abounded in other spiritual gifts and love, they should "abound in this gracious work [of giving] also" (7). Fulfilling their commitment would prove the sincerity of their love (8). 

Giving promotes equality (8:13-15). The purpose of this gift was not to afflict the Corinthians, while making life easy for the Jerusalem saints, but to promote equality in times of need (13). As such, one only gives willingly (10, 12) and according to his ability (12). This makes Christian giving different from socialism or communism.

Giving prevents shame (8:16-9:5). Paul had been boasting about the Corinthian's desire to demonstrate their love toward Jerusalem Saints (24), and sent brethren of honorable regard to prepare and administer the gift (8:16-23). By fulfilling their offering, the Corinthians would prevent the shame which would occur if they failed to meet the commitment Paul had bragged about to others (cf. 9:4).

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