If you heard of someone being tested by many troubles and described as very poor, what kind of person would you imagine? Someone who’s disappointed or stressed? Maybe pessimistic, a pained expression always splashed across their face, bracing for the next bad thing? And they have every reason to be—when life isn’t going our way and problems are aplenty, it can be tough to keep the hope and rise above the struggle.
Paul was writing to the Corinthians about the churches in Macedonia, and that’s exactly how he described the people—tested by many troubles and very poor. But the next line is incredulous and key here: “But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed with rich generosity.” Here, a people who are poor are labeled rich, and a people facing trying circumstances are not filled with despair like some might expect. Their abundant joy is evident for all to see.
This is because their love for others and concern for other believers became the highest priority, and whatever they could give, they gave—and they did it eagerly. Even though they were in need, they knew there were others even more in need; and they trusted God would see this gift, use it to do a mighty work in their world, and also to take care of their personal needs in the end.
Because truly, if Jesus, who was rich, became poor in our place so that we could be made rich in every way—how could we ever believe He would leave us hanging? When we honor Him with our money, we can quiet our fears and find abundant joy when we overflow with rich generosity. Because God sees, He will use it to do a mighty work, and we can trust in the deepest depths of our soul that He will come through and take care of our personal needs in the end.
1. Do you relate more with the churches in Macedonia, tested by many troubles and very poor? Or do you relate to the church in Corinth, excelling in many ways, having already been tithing? Notice that Paul’s words are the same to both lots and both churches: Give, and give eagerly.
2. May this be our prayer: “Lord, in many ways, I have plenty. I make relatively good money, I have a couple of free hours a night, and I have resources at home that I don’t use. Show me where I should give more to Your work—whether that’s increasing my tithe, volunteering a couple times a month, or donating items just accumulating dust at home. I want to give, and I want to do it eagerly—knowing you have called me to this gracious ministry of giving.”
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
A Call to Generous Giving
1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. 2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.
6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. 7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving.
8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.
9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. 13 Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. 14 Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. 15 As the Scriptures say,
“Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over,
and those who gathered only a little had enough.”