How Much Should I Give?
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (2 Cor. 8:9)
It’s interesting that when Paul encourages the Corinthian church to give generously, he does not command them. In fact, he specifically says to them, “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine” (2 Cor. 8:8, 24). In other words, he does not want to command them to give but if they want to prove or show their love for Christ is genuine, that their love for others is genuine, then they should give generously to the church. Paul encourages them to give generously for two reasons. First, he appeals to the example set by the church in Macedonia. At the beginning of the chapter he writes, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints” (vv.1-4, emphasis added). Out of “their extreme poverty” they gave in a “wealth of generosity…beyond their means” and were begging them earnestly for the privilege of being able to give. The church in Macedonia was extremely generous. So much so, he mentions this when he writes to them in the letter to the Philippians, that throughout his missionary journeys, they were the only ones who faithfully and consistently provided him with financial and material support (1:3-7; 4:14-18). The second way Paul encourages them to give generously is by reminding them of what Christ has done for them. He goes on to say, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (8:9, emphasis added). He reminds them of God’s grace and all that Christ accomplished on their behalf and then encourages them to give in light of that. In other words, look toward the cross of Christ and then ask yourself, ‘In light of what Christ gave for me, how much should I be willing to give for him?’ How much of my income is the cross of Christ worth? We should strive for and pray to be more like the church in Macedonia who “overflowed in a wealth of generosity” for the saints (8:5).
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