Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians
Biblical Principles for Christian Giving
2 Corinthians 8:1-5
31 July 2016
In a previous letter to the church at Corinth, Paul had asked them to take up an offering for the church in Jerusalem, but a year had passed without their help. In 2 Corinthians 8:1 - 5, Paul gives four biblical principles for Christian giving, using the Macedonian churches as a living example.
Our giving should demonstrate the grace of God (v. 1). We are to resemble the God who gives liberally to all by giving to people we do not know without expectation of return. The Macedonian churches' giving is described by Paul as a "grace of God."
Our giving should be generous despite the circumstances (v. 2). Too often, our circumstances define our giving, but the Macedonians gave "in a great ordeal of affliction," and in "deep poverty." And yet the Macedonians gave in an abundance of joy because they knew they had received the grace of God, far more than any material wealth.
Our giving should be voluntary and sacrificial (v. 3 - 4). The Old Testament law does not define the New Testament believer's giving, although it did similarly ask for freewill offerings. Christians today are to give willingly, and sacrificially, according to what we have, rather than what we don't have (1 Cor. 16:2). We trust that God is able to supply all our needs in Christ (Phil 4:19).
Our giving should be an act of worship (v. 8). Paul says that he does not command them to give, but would ask them to show love for Christ and His Church in this way. God does not desire the giver's gift so much as the giver's heart, for God who made the world does not need money Himself.