Summary: The pattern of Christ's giving (of Himself) is the paradigm for our (financial) giving.
THE GRACE OF GIVING
1. The example of the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:1-5).
(1) By the grace of God, the Macedonian churches (Philippi and Thessalonica) had been particularly forward in giving.
(2) Their gift was given out of poverty: like that of the widow with the two small copper coins (Luke 21:2-4).
(3) They gave willingly (cf. 2 Corinthians 9:7).
(4) They gave as an expression of ‘the grace and the fellowship of the service.’ When we give to the poor in other churches, it is an expression of our fellowship in Christ. The Macedonians evidently considered it to be a privilege to give to the poor among the saints in Jerusalem (cf. Romans 15:26).
(5) Free-will offering arises out of a commitment to Christ, His cause, and His people (cf. 1 John 3:14).
2. ‘Incomplete!’ (2 Corinthians 8:6-8).
(6) How many things in our Christian lives, I wonder, have we begun, but not completed? Well, here is Paul the Apostle, looking at the grace begun by Titus among the Corinthians, instructing his protégé now to bring it to completion.
(7) It is not that the Corinthians are without grace: for in that they evidently abounded (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:4-8). “Since you abound in everything,” Paul argues positively, “… see that you abound in this grace also.”
(8) Interestingly, the Apostle does not instruct the relatively rich Corinthians to tithe. There is to be no sense of compulsion in our giving (cf. Acts 5:4). On the contrary, Paul challenged the Corinthians to demonstrate their love by sharing in this grace of giving.
3. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 8:9).
(9) This is the key verse in the passage. The Apostle reminds the Corinthians of what they already know: “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” How that He was “rich” but made Himself “poor” that we through His “poverty” might become “rich”. In fact, Jesus in His pre-incarnate glory was ‘equal with God’ but He ‘emptied Himself, took the form of a bondservant, became man, humbled Himself, was obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross’ (Philippians 2:6-8). As the Corinthians had just been reminded, ‘He who knew no sin became sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). The pattern of Christ's giving (of Himself) is the paradigm for our (financial) giving.
4. Paul gives his advice (2 Corinthians 8:10-12).
(10) The Corinthians were enthusiastic at the outset of the project. If there was a queue, they would have been first in it. But now their enthusiasm had abated.
(11) Perhaps the delay in the collection was due to a fear that they would not be able to complete it? Paul will later remind them of their source: the abounding grace of God towards them (2 Corinthians 9:8).
(12) Paul emphasises here that we are not necessarily called to give beyond our means. A gift is acceptable if we first have a willing mind.
5. A willingness to share (2 Corinthians 8:13-15).
(13) Some may have felt that an unreasonable weight of responsibility was being laid upon them. This was not Paul’s intention at all.
(14) Rather, “by an equality” - the equality that we already have with one another in Christ Jesus - we should each be willing to share out of whatever abundance we may have, to help those who lack. With reference to the poor in Jerusalem, Paul elsewhere mentions the spiritual indebtedness of the Gentile churches to the church in Jerusalem (Romans 15:27).
(15) In this, there is a kind of reciprocity. Paul illustrates this with a quotation from the gathering of the manna: “he who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack” (Exodus 16:18). This is the divine economy at its very best!