2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;…
A puny faith begets a sickly charity. In nothing is the faith of our day set in stronger contrast with the faith of the first Christians than in this its most essential fruit. You are accustomed for the confirmation of your faith, your discipline, your worship, to go back to the first ages and to find your pattern there. Are you as ready to go back to them to learn the rule and practice of true charity? The gospel is the revelation of the perfect will of God, made, once for all, to all mankind. It has but one rule, then, for every place and for all ages. Until self is conquered nothing is accomplished. "Ye are not your own, for ye are bought with a price," is the first lesson in the Christian school. How can it be otherwise? When did love ever seek its own? The case of the Macedonian Christians teems with instruction for us all. The first reception of the gospel was visited everywhere with persecution. Saint was synonymous with sufferer. Wherever the storm raged highest, love was the most lavish of its treasures. Distance made no difference. The "one faith" made for all "one heart." At this time the poor Christians at Jerusalem were the objects of especial interest. The apostle's tender heart yearned to his brethren of the flesh, and, writing to the Church at Corinth, he pleads their cause with all his own inimitable eloquence. He writes from Macedonia. Compared with that at Corinth, the churches in this province at Philippi, at Thessalonica, at Berea, were poor in this world's goods, But they were "rich in faith." He holds them up, therefore, as an ensample to their rich brethren, "to provoke them to good works."
1. That a charitable disposition is the gift of God — "the grace of God bestowed on the churches" — who sends His Holy Ghost, and pours into all hearts that will receive it, "that most excellent gift of charity."
2. That it is a source of pure and rich enjoyment to its possessor, "the abundance of their joy," the apostle calls it, "twice blessed," in the phrase of our great poet.
3. That its exercise, where it exists, is not repressed by poverty, not even "deep poverty, in a great trial of affliction."
4. That it waits not to be asked, but is "willing of itself."
5. That its tendency is always to exceed, rather than to fall short, of the true measure of ability, overflowing in the riches of its liberality, not only "according to" its power, but "beyond" its "power."
6. That it counts the opportunity of exercise a favour done to it, "praying us, with much entreaty, that we would receive the gift."
7. That this will only be so when the heart has been surrendered, as "living sacrifice," and then will always be, first giving "their own selves to the Lord, and" then "to us, by the will of God."
(Sermons by American Clergymen.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;