2 Corinthians 8:5
And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us by the will of God.
If it seems strange to us that a large portion of an inspired Epistle should be occupied with directions as to a charitable collection which was going forward at the time, it should be remembered; that Christianity introduced into human society new and more powerful principles of benevolence, and further, that the new and Divine revelation was one which laid the foundation for this as for all human duties in the character and action of God himself.
I. THE PRIMARY AND ALL-IMPORTANT DEDICATION IS THAT OF THE WHOLE PERSONAL NATURE UNTO THE LORD.
1. This appears when it is recollected that the Lord has first given himself for us. His sacrifice thus becomes the ground of our consecration.
2. Our very constitution, taken in connection with our natural relation to our Lord, points to such a dedication. "No man liveth unto himself." Our "chief end is to glorify God."
3. This spiritual consecration is pre-eminently acceptable to God. His demand is, "Give me thine heart." Every gift which does not flow from this is vain and worthless in his sight.
II. THE DEDICATION OF SELF TO THE LORD SHOULD BE FOLLOWED BY THE DEDICATION OF SELF TO THE LORD'S PEOPLE. Paul looked for the brotherhood, the confidence, the cooperation of his converts, and indeed of all Christian people whom Divine providence might bring into contact with him. The Corinthians apparently wished to be personally associated with him in the ministration to the Judaean Christians who were in poverty, and their wish was a source of satisfaction and joy to him.
III. TRUE CHRISTIAN CONSECRATION INVOLVES THE GIFT OF PROPERTY TO THE LORD'S CAUSE. It is sometimes objected against calls for liberality that God cannot be enriched by our giving. This is true, yet God's people may receive advantage, and Christ has shown us that what is done for his people is done for himself. As most people value their possessions, their generosity is a proof of the sincerity of their love and the reality of their consecration.
"How can I, Lord, withhold
Life's brightest hour
From thee; or gathered gold,
Or any power?
Why should I keep one precious thing from thee,
When thou hast given thine own dear self for me?" = - t.
Parallel VersesKJV: And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.