2 Corinthians 8:1-7
Moreover, brothers, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;…
The charity commended is that of the Macedonian Churches.
I. THEY GAVE UNDER VERY UNFAVOURABLE CIRCUMSTANCES.
1. They were in much affliction. (Ver. 2.) This might have suggested special care of themselves rather than of others. Suffering often produces selfishness. Our pain often prevents us from realizing the pains of others.
2. They were in deep poverty. (Ver. 2.) How could they give? Charity must begin at home, and does not "deep poverty" demonstrate that it must end there? How inconsiderate, and indeed absurd, to ask them to give! Was it not their duty to be provident? to hold some reserve in store against possibly worse times? No people talk more of duty than those who intend to violate it. The Macedonians saw the high duty of charity, and nobly performed that duty.
II. THOUGH AFFLICTED AND POOR, THEY GAVE LARGELY. (Ver. 3.) Their danger was not that they might give too little, but that they might give too much. "Beyond their power." Affliction and poverty combined could not cramp their large heartedness. Many ask how little they can give; the Macedonian Christians asked how much. A modern curse of the Church is small giving. There are too many threepenny-bit Christians.
III. THEY GAVE VOLUNTARILY. (Ver. 3.) Compulsory kindness is of little worth. And there are other compulsions than physical, "Voluntary offerings" are often anything but voluntary.
IV. THEY GAVE WITHOUT URGENT APPEAL. They gave "of their own accord." They did not require the importunities of a "collection sermon." They required only to know of the need; the charity was spontaneous.
V. THEY BEGGED FOR THE PRIVILEGE OF GIVING. (Ver. 4.) They longed to help, and supplicated for a share of the good work. Giving, to them, was a privilege - a gain, not a loss. Giving was not a thing to be avoided, but a thing to be sought. Perhaps they remembered the words of the Lord, "It is more blessed to give than to receive." Had they given in an assembly it would not have been necessary to have the collection in the middle of the meeting to avoid a stampede and empty plates at the close. Much giving of today is not an illustration of charity, but a burlesque of it.
VI. THEY GAVE WITH MUCH JOY. (Ver. 2.) They reaped the firstfruits of charity at the time of the seed sowing! Such are the wonders of spiritual agriculture. The grudging giver defrauds no one so much as himself. To miss the joy of giving is to miss how much! There are few luxuries so sweet as the luxury of charity,
VII. THEY GAVE THEMSELVES AS WELL AS THEIR MONETARY CONTRIBUTION. (Ver. 5.)
1. To the Lord. They solemnly dedicated themselves and their belongings to the Most High. 'Twas easy for them to surrender a part when they had surrendered the whole. We give haltingly because we do not believe the Scripture which saith, "Ye are not your own." Our gifts cannot be acceptable to God if we withhold ourselves or parts of ourselves.
2. To the apostle. As to a servant of their Lord. For service. When they surrendered themselves to God they did not surrender themselves to idleness, but to activity. Many present to God a mass of indolence. Some consecrated people seem consecrated to do nothing. The Macedonian conduct exceeded the apostolic expectation, not the Divine. This was what God expected, and what he expects from us. It was "by the will of God" (ver. 5). PRACTICAL.
1. Here is an example for us. Though we abound in faith, utterance, knowledge, earnestness (ver. 7), yet if we have not this practical love we are no better than "sounding brass" (1 Corinthians 13:1).
2. We can attain to this only as the Macedonian Christians attained to it, by "the grace of God" (ver. 1). We do not want more money in our pockets, but more grace in our hearts. God can work this work in us. Let us commit ourselves into his hands, that this miracle may be wrought in us also. - H.
Parallel VersesKJV: Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;