2 Corinthians 8 v 1 - 15

Paul ends this passage with a quote from the book of Exodus, describing God's ample provision for Israel as they wandered in the wilderness and he applies it, in summary, to conclude his encouragement to the Corinthian church to give freely, sacrificially and generously to the church in Jerusalem, whose members were in dire straits. The church in Jerusalem was seen as the mother church, because all other churches were founded by those going out of that church. So, Paul uses FIVE arguments here to appeal to the Corinthians to give generously:

1. He cites the example of others, especially the Macedonian Churches. At the Jewish feast of Purim, the regulation was that each man should find someone poorer than himself and give him a gift. I have known many generous people rich and poor in my life and I have known many miserly people rich and poor in my life. Our generosity is not determined by how much we give, but if we give sacrificially. Remember the story of the widow's mite and Jesus' commendation of her because she had given all she had? I do feel that this is one way we are called to act counter-culturally: not to build financial security, but to give almost recklessly. What we do with our money defines us most fully and defines our relationship with Christ as opposed to the world. The World encourages us to hoard; Jesus Christ calls us to GIVE, GIVE, GIVE! What are you doing with your money?

2. He cites the example of Jesus Christ. For Paul, the sacrifice of Christ was not just about the Cross, but began when He agreed to come to Earth.

3. He cites the past record of the Corinthian church. They had been at the very front of all things spiritual, so why not also financial giving? With the Church in the UK being so desperate for revival and the felt wind of the Spirit, we seem to have forgotten that the Holy Spirit of God is primarily interested in Peace, Justice and Mercy- Micah 6 v 8 and read on to verse 12. It is how and when we give generously to churches in Eastern Europe, such as Dragan's in North Macedonia and in India and China and elsewhere as well as churches struggling in this country that we receive God's awesome power in our lives. We sing: ''I want more of you in my life'' without recognising that this will entail giving sacrificially, so that we are no longer financially secure!!

4. Paul stresses the need to put fine feeling into fine action. We are bombarded by speakers these days who know exactly what to say, but have no intention of carrying out!

5. Paul reminds his readers that life has a strange way of evening out, what is given out of a generous heart is received back bountifully.

Paul's big example here are the Macedonians and we know about one or two individuals from that area: Aristarchus was with Paul on his last journey to Rome- Acts 28 v 2- and he could only have done this by enrolling himself as Paul's slave!! No gift can be in any sense a REAL gift unless the giver gives with it a bit of himself or herself, the highest example of which is Jesus Christ.

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