Chuck Smith Through the Bible Commentary - 2 Corinthians 8:1 - 8:24

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Chuck Smith Through the Bible Commentary - 2 Corinthians 8:1 - 8:24

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:

Chapter 8

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit [or we would bring to your remembrance] of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction, the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality ( 2Co_8:1-2 ).

And so, though they were impoverished themselves, they were extremely liberal. They say that poor people usually give much more to the poor than do wealthy people, because the poor people understand what it is to be poor. This is, I believe, true. It has been our observation through the years that the most generous people within the church are not the wealthiest people, but the poorer people seem to be more liberal.

Now, giving to God can never be measured by the amount. God doesn't measure the gift by the amount. God measures the gift by the cost to the giver. You see, if you're making a million dollars a year and you give God a hundred thousand dollars tithe, you're not really giving very much. Doesn't really cost you much. Look at all you've got to live on.

If you make ten thousand dollars a year and you give God a thousand dollars, that's giving a lot, because you don't have that much left to live on. What did it cost you? Jesus was with His disciples, standing in the temple, watching the wealthy people as they were coming along and putting their gifts there at the altar with all of their show and ostentation. This is what Jesus was referring to when in the Sermon on the Mount, He said, "And when you give, don't be like the Pharisee who like to get a trumpet band going in front of them." Fanfare, "Everybody, here's how much I'm giving. Toot-too-too-toot, too-toot!" Fanfare, you know, you make a big thing out of it.

One little lady came in and dropped in a mite, which was a half of a penny. And Jesus turned to the disciples and He said, "That little lady gave more than all of the rest. For they all had given out of their abundance, but she gave her very substance, all she had." So, God has an interesting way of accounting and of keeping accounts as far as what you give. For God looks at what it cost you to give, and that is the measurement whereby God measures our gifts.

So the church in Macedonia, they gave out of their deep poverty. Yet, they were so liberal in their giving of their offerings.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty [and begging us] that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints ( 2Co_8:3-4 ).

So the church in Macedonia, Paul was probably reluctant to take the money. Say, "Oh no, you guys need this." And he was reluctant to take their money, because they had made such a liberal offering and they had needs themselves. But they insisted; they entreated Paul, "Take this money because we want to share. We want to have this koinonia. We want to have this . . . " Well, the word koinonia was translated one place all things in common. We want to have this total sharing with the church.

And this they did, not as we hoped [more than what we had hoped, actually], but [they] first gave their own selves to the Lord, and [then] unto us by the will of God ( 2Co_8:5 ).

Now, of course, it is important that you give yourself. God is far more interested in you giving yourself than He is giving your money. In fact, if you don't give yourself to God and just give your money, it's not going to do you any good. "They gave first of themselves, and then unto us by the will of God."

Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as you abound in every thing ( 2Co_8:6-7 ),

Now, this was the poor saints there who were in Macedonia. They gave liberally. Now, "you abound in everything." You abound,

in faith, and [in the] utterance [of the word], and [you abound in] knowledge, and [you abound] in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace [charis] also ( 2Co_8:7 ).

In this giving. The word charis is an interesting Greek word. It means everything that is beautiful, lovely, glorious, translated grace.

I speak not by commandment ( 2Co_8:8 ),

I'm not ordering you.

but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love ( 2Co_8:8 ).

Now having used, first of all, the church in Macedonia as an example of giving through grace, he now refers to even a greater example.

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich ( 2Co_8:9 ).

And so, calling upon, first of all, the Macedonians as the example of giving. Now a more dramatic illustration, "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, though He was rich." The universe is His, all that is in it. The world is the Lord's and the fullness thereof and all they that dwell therein. "Yet for your sake He became poor, in order that through His poverty He might make you rich."

And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient [necessary] for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago ( 2Co_8:10 ).

"Now we've been talking about this," Paul says, "for quite a while."

Now therefore ( 2Co_8:11 )

We've talked about it, "Now therefore,"

perform the doing of it ( 2Co_8:11 );

"We've been talking about it for a long time. Now do it." There comes a time when we need to quit talking and we need to start acting. Start doing it. There's a time when, really, you need to quit praying and start moving. When Moses had led the children of Israel out of Egypt, and they came to the Red Sea, and they had camped there near Paihero. And they looked behind them, and the Pharoah had come with his chariots and his army. It says Moses fell on his face and cried unto the Lord, and God says, "Why are you crying unto me? Get up and get moving, Moses." Now is not the time for a prayer meeting; now is the time to move. "Take your rod, stretch it forth over the sea and all." And so, there comes the time for action. We can talk about something for a long time, but then the time comes, we've got to move upon it. And that's what Paul was encouraging them here. Look, you've been talking about it for a long time. Now do it. Perform it, the doing of it.

that as there was a readiness to will ( 2Co_8:11 ),

Or you were willing to do so.

so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that [which] he hath not ( 2Co_8:11-12 ).

It's your willingness to do. Now Paul will go ahead and talk further about giving in chapter nine. Actually, this whole thought of giving goes on through into chapter nine. And in chapter nine, he says that your giving should not be from pressure, should not be from constraint nor grudging. In other words, don't give if you're going to complain or gripe about it. Better not to give. God doesn't like a griping giver. Who does? God loves the cheerful giver.

The word in the Greek is hilarious. The offering should be the most hilarious time of the whole service. And if you can't give with hilarity, you shouldn't give. You know, if when you give you think, "Oh man, I could go to Bob's and get a Big Boy and a malt, you know. Now I can't, because I'm giving it." It'd be better that you go get your Big Boy and a malt and get your indigestion and all, than to give it in a grudging way to God. God doesn't want you to begrudge what you've given to Him.

And that's not only in money, that's in anything, in service, of time, or whatever. What I give to God I ought to give out of a willing heart, out of a loving heart, without begrudging or griping about what I've given or done. That completely spoils the gift when someone then begins to complain or gripe about it.

So there was, first of all, a willing mind. That's great. That's accepted. God accepts the willingness of your mind according to what you have. You don't have to give what you don't have.

For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye be burdened ( 2Co_8:13 ):

I don't want to lay the whole burden on you.

But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want [needs], that their abundance also may be a supply for your want [needs]; that there may be an equality ( 2Co_8:14 ):

And so, this is what Paul is calling for within the church: an equality. Now, there are places today in the world where the church is really suffering. And that is why we have mission projects. That is why we send thousands of dollars to the Christians in other areas of the world every year. That is why we send out free tapes by the thousands all over the world to various missionary groups, that there might be an equality. God has blessed us abundantly, which lays upon us the responsibility of sharing, then, with those churches that have not been as blessed. That there might be this equality within the body. Who knows? Maybe someday we'll need help from them.

As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over ( 2Co_8:15 );

This is when God had sent the manna to them in the wilderness.

and he that had gathered little had no lack ( 2Co_8:15 ).

The equality that was there.

Now Paul is going to send some messengers down there to collect this offering.

But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you ( 2Co_8:16 ).

Titus feels for you just like I do, the same feeling.

For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches ( 2Co_8:17-18 );

Now, just who this brother is that went with Titus, I don't know. But Titus was wanting to go back and to take this other letter of Paul back to them, and there went with him another brother who was well spoken of in all of the churches. There are those who believe it was probably Luke, but we don't know for sure.

And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace ( 2Co_8:19 ),

Or with the money that you sent.

which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind ( 2Co_8:19 ):

So, he was chosen to take this offering with us. So, Paul is not going to be solely responsible for seeing that this gets back to Jerusalem, but these trusted men are going to be going with Paul in taking this money to the church in Jerusalem.

Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us ( 2Co_8:20 ):

Paul wanted to be very careful in the money matters, recognizing that it's the Lord's money given by the Lord's people. He sought to be very careful that there was a proper accounting of the money, lest there would be suspicion upon him that he had been taking the Lord's money.

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of [all] men ( 2Co_8:21 ).

An honest accounting of the funds that have been given. I think that this is so vital for the church to keep an accurate accounting of the monies that have come in, and how they've been dispensed. And our church books are open to anyone who attends here and who supports the church. If you want to know how your monies are expended, the books are open, and you can look at the books, and you can see how the monies are expended. You have a right to know.

If you don't give, it's none of your business. Some people want to come in and look at the books, and they're total strangers. We don't open up the books. It's none of their business unless they give. If you give, then it is your business, and we're happy to provide you with an accounting. We feel that we need to "provide things honest in the sight of all men."

And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. Whether any do inquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellow helper concerning you: or our brethren be inquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. Wherefore show ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf ( 2Co_8:22-24 ).

"So, go ahead and give a generous offering and show to them, prove to them what I said about you was true. That you're just good people and generous people." So, Paul is sending now these men to collect the offering for, from them that he might, when he goes to Jerusalem, take it to them.

And he will continue in the next chapter this thought on their giving before he moves on to the vindication of his apostleship in chapter ten.

I would like to commend you for going through chapter seven and eight. They are not the most inspiring chapters in the Bible. Paul is dealing with local issues in the church of Corinth. However, there are basic principles which we have sought to bring out, because the principles remain though the situations change. And so, though this isn't the most inspiring portions of the scriptures, yet there are important principles to be gained in this session.

I will frankly confess there are many other areas of scripture where I find much more inspiration, and yet, we don't want to skip this, because we might skip some principle that is very necessary for us.

Father, we thank You for Your word, a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path to guide us through our journey through this life. Now, Father, help us to fix our eyes upon the goal, looking unto Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith that we might run with patience the race that is set before us, that we might be faithful servants, doing Your will, living for Your glory. In Jesus' name. Amen.

The Lord be with you and bless you abundantly. We look forward to seeing you when we return from Israel in a couple of weeks. In the meantime, you pray for us as we will be praying for you that the Lord will just minister to you of the abundance of His grace, His mercy, His love through Jesus Christ our Lord. That you might be blessed through the work of His Spirit in your inner man, making you strong, bringing you victory. May the Lord guide your life, keep your life, and use your life for His glory. In Jesus' name. "