Christian Liberality
2 Corinthians 8:13-15
For I mean not that other men be eased, and you burdened:…

I. THE SPIRIT IN WHICH PAUL URGED IT. The apostle spoke strongly: not in the way of coercion, but of counsel and persuasion (vers. 8, 10). Note the difference between the dictatorial authority of the priest and the gentle helpfulness of the minister (2 Corinthians 1:24). There is not a minister or priest who is not exposed to the temptation which allures men to try to be a confessor and director to his people, to guide their conscience, to rule their wills, and to direct their charities. But observe how entirely alien this was from St. Paul's spirit. According to the apostle, a Christian was one who, perceiving principles, in the free spirit of Jesus Christ, applied these principles for himself. As examples of this, remember the spirit in which he excommunicated (1 Corinthians 5:12, 13) and absolved (2 Corinthians 2:10), and remark, in both these cases — where the priestly power would have been put forward, if anywhere — the entire absence of all aim at personal influence or authority. St. Paul would not even command Philemon to receive his slave (Philemon 1:8, 9, 13, 14). And in the case before us he would not order the Corinthians to give even to a charity which he reckoned an important one. He wanted them to be men, and not dumb, driven cattle.


1. The example of Christ (ver. 9). To a Christian mind Christ is all; the measure of all things: the standard and the reference.

2. The desire of reciprocity (vers. 13-15). This is the watchword of Socialists, who cry out for equality in circumstances. But think, Paul's principle is that the abundance of the rich is intended for the supply of the poor; and the illustration of the principle is drawn from the manna (ver. 15). If any one through greediness gathered more than enough, it bred worms, and became offensive; and if through weakness, or deep sorrow, or pain, any were prevented from collecting enough, still what they had collected was sufficient. In this miracle St. Paul perceives a great universal principle of human life. God has given to every man a certain capacity and a certain power of enjoyment. Beyond that he cannot find delight. Whatsoever he heaps or hoards beyond that is not enjoyment but disquiet. E.g., if a man monopolises to himself rest which should be shared by others, the result is unrest — the weariness of one on whom time hangs heavily. Again, if a man piles up wealth, all beyond a certain point becomes disquiet. How well life teaches us that whatever is beyond enough breeds worms, and becomes offensive! We can now understand why the apostle desired equality, and what that equality was which he desired. Equality with him meant reciprocation — the feeling of a true and loving brotherhood; which makes each man feel, "My superabundance is not mine: it is another's: not to be taken by force, or wrung from me by law, but to be given freely by the law of love." Observe, then, how Christianity would soon solve the problems of the rights of the poor and the duties of the rich. After how much does possession become superabundance? When has a man gathered too much? You cannot answer these questions by any science. Socialism cannot do it. Revolutions will try to do it, but they will only take from the rich and give to the poor; so that the poor become rich, and the rich poor, and we have inequality back again. But give us the spirit of Christ. Let us love as Christ loved. Give us the spirit of sacrifice which the early Church had, when no man said that aught of the things he possessed was his own; then each man's own heart will decide what is meant by gathering too much, and what is meant by Christian equality.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:

WEB: For this is not that others may be eased and you distressed,

Willing Minds Putting Value on Gifts
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