The first argument which our apostle makes use of to excite the charity of the Corinthians, is drawn from the example of the Macedonians, into whose hearts God had poured that excellent grace of charity: insomuch that the churches of Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea and other churches in the region of Macedonia, though under great trials and afflictions themselves, yet such was their joy in, and their affection to the Christian profession, that notwithstanding their deep poverty, they abounded in their liberality towards the necessities of the poor saints in Jerusalem and Judea.
Note here, 1. The root from which all acceptable charity to the members of Christ must arise and spring, namely, from the grace of God; from an inward principle of love to God, in obedience to his command, and with a pure and fixed eye at his glory. Liberality to the poor distressed members of Christ, as such, must flow from that habit of divine love, by which men are taught of God to love one another; for though, from a natural sympathy and compassion men may relieve the afflicted, as men, yet without a gracious inclination they cannot do good to them, as members of the household of faith. Charity then is here called the grace of God, because it proceeds from a gracious disposition wrought in the heart by God, as the root and spring, the motive and attractive, of it.
Note here, 2. The condition which the churches of Macedonia were in themselves; when they thus liberally and cheerfully administered to the necessities of others, they were first under great affliction, and then in great poverty themselves; and yet the riches of their liberality are here said to abound.-
From whence learn, That poverty excuses not from charity: If we have nothing actually to give, God accepts the inclination of the mind, and a willing desire. If we have but little to give, God will accept of our mite, and reward us for that little, if given for his sake. It is not the quantity of the gift, but the good affection of the giver, that God's eye is upon. If we give but a cup of cold water to a disciple, and as a disciple, God accepts it and rewards it, provided we have nothing better to give; for if our charity be not in some degree proportionable to what we have, it will not be acceptable, but we shall miss of its reward.