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Second Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians 8: 1-15 (NIV)
1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 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.
10 And here is my judgement 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. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
How we regard the things of this world depends on our understanding of life. Those who have a clear understanding of eternal life with God because of the promises of Jesus Christ are more likely to hold loosely the things of this world. “Possessions” and “ownership” have different meanings for those who remain aware that, when we depart this world at the end of our earthly life, we will carry no things with us.
The things of this world are for this world, not for life after our deaths. Jesus’ kingdom is not of this world (see John 18: 36). The Apostle Paul understood this. He was able to impart this message to some; those of the Macedonian churches seemed to be at the forefront of caring for others through generously providing support for people of Christ’s church who were in greater need than were they.
In this passage Paul urged the church in Corinth to be equally generous. Although he extolled the generosity of the Macedonian churches, his primary example was the Lord Jesus Christ who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (verse 9).
Does our generosity match that of the Macedonian churches?