STUDY II Corinthians
8:1-15 (click here for notes)
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. But just as you excel in everything-in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." (NIV)
Poor But Generous
Paul moves from discussing his joy over the Corinthians' repentance to addressing the issue of being financially generous. The Macedonian churches, he tells them, have displayed an amazing outpouring of grace. They have been in extreme poverty, yet they begged Paul to be included in the collection for the brothers and sisters in need in other areas.
1. What churches were in Macedonia? (see Acts 16:9. Use a map to identify Macedonia and to locate the cities where Paul established churches.)
2. Paul emphasizes that the Macedonian churches were richly generous even in their extreme poverty. What is the first example of God's people bringing generous offerings for God's "temple"? (see Exodus 36:3-6)
3. How does Paul explain the phenomenon of being generous in poverty? (see 2 Corinthians 9:10-11)
4. How is giving for needy fellow Christ-followers related to the Israelites' giving for the tabernacle?
5. Paul explains that the Macedonians gave "beyond their ability." How did Paul originally explain to the Corinthians their approach to giving? (see 1 Corinthians 16:2)
6. What is the "service" to which Paul says the Macedonians wanted to contribute, and who were "the saints"? (see Acts 24:7; 9:13)
7. What is Titus's relationship to the Corinthians, and why is Paul sending him to them now? (v.6, 10; 7:5-7, 13-15; 9:2)
Grace of Giving
8. Paul acknowledges that the Corinthians are gifted by the Holy Spirit. (v. 7; 1 Cor. 1:4-7) and urges them to "excel in this grace of giving" and connects this grace in them with the grace of Christ. What does Paul mean by the paradox that although Christ was rich, he became poor so that they might become rich through his poverty? (see Matthew 20:26-28; Philippians 2:6-8; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Galatians 3:13-14; Hebrews 4:15-16; 7:26-27; 1 Peter 2:22-25; 1 John 3:4-5)
9. How is the grace of giving related to the Corinthians' becoming rich as a result of Christ's poverty?
10. In verses 10-12 Paul talks about the necessity of finishing the work they had willingly begun but had not completed within a year's time. Why is finishing well more important than beginning well? (Matthew 13:20-22; 21:28-32; 2 Timothy 4:6-8; Hebrews 3:12-14; 6:4-6; 10:26-31; Ephesians 6:13; 2 Peter 2:20-21)
11. Why is willingness so important when we give offerings? (see Mark 12:41-44; 2 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Samuel 15:22; 1 Timothy 7:18-20; Ephesians 4:27-28; 5:1-2; Hebrews 13:5, 15-16)
Enough for All
12. What is the underlying principle behind giving offerings, and where did this principle begin? (see verse 14; Acts 4:34; 2 Corinthians 9:12-13; Numbers 18:21)
13. How is giving to the brothers in need related to giving tithes for the Levites?
14. How does the New Covenant change our understanding of and obligation to giving?
15. How is your understanding of giving different from when you were Adventist (or law-based)?
16. How has your giving changed since you've embraced the New Covenant?
17. Has your giving helped provide the needs of your brothers and sisters as opposed to programs? Have you benefited from others' giving?
18. Is your heart willing to be generous, or do you have a hard time parting with your money?
19. What do you fear losing if you give generously?
20. What keeps you from saying to Jesus, "All I have is yours; please make me content in you and show me what you want to do with what I have"?
21. Are you trusting Jesus completely for direction in how to handle your assets, or are you still partially trusting your own good business sense and investments?
22. Ask God to reveal to you the things to which you're clinging for security. Ask him to help you hold his blessings to you loosely, trusting him to direct your giving and your heart's willingness to be generous. Ask him to be all you need and to teach your heart to trust him to supply your needs as you allow him to supply others' needs through you.
Copyright (c) 2002 Graphics Studio, Redlands,
CA USA. All rights reserved. Posted July 13, 2002, , revised September 7,