2 Corinthians 8:8
I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
In giving liberally towards the collection made for the poor Christians of Judaea, the Corinthians showed their love to the objects of their charity, to the apostle to whose appeal they responded, and also to the unseen Lord and Saviour by whose desire and for whose sake they befriended the least of his brethren.
I. LOVE TO CHRIST IS THE MIGHTIEST OF ALL SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES, Human life abounds with evidence of the might of love; every family, every society, has some exemplifications of the power of love to overcome difficulties, to prompt to exertion, to sustain under self-denied. And all Christendom in every age has shown that love to Christ is an unrivalled motive to holiness, to patience, to benevolence. The hymns of the Church's literature, and the gifts and labours recorded in the Church's annals, are alike proof of the vitality and efficacy of Christian love.
II. THE PROFESSION OF LOVE TO CHRIST IS NOT ALWAYS ACCOMPANIED BY THE REALITY. The early disciples were admonished to "love unfeigned," were warned, "Let love be without dissimulation." Doubtless in all ages there have been those who have deceived themselves, and have imagined that they loved Christ, because they have felt some glow of admiration towards him, but who in time of trial have made it manifest that they had no depth of love. Weighed in the balance, they are found wanting. The soul is brought face to face with its own weakness and worthlessness, inconsistency and treachery.
III. THE LORD JESUS TESTS IN MANY WAYS THE SINCERITY OF HIS PEOPLE'S PROFESSION OF LOVE.
1. By his bodily absence from them, which shows whether they have an attachment to their professed Lord which can abide even though not fostered by sight and constant personal intercourse.
2. By permitting rival powers and persons to invite the supreme affection of the heart. These, though they cannot satisfy, may please, and the Lord of all suffers their attractiveness; for the love which cannot abide amid rival attractions is poor indeed.
3. By his demand that we should surrender what is dear to us, if to retain it conflicts with our supreme attachment to Christ. The young ruler was subjected to this test. In some form it comes to many. Feigned love will then go away, even though it go away grieved.
4. By our necessary and probationary contact with an unloving world. In the presence of the unspiritual and unsympathizing, the sincerity of the Christian's love is often sorely tested.
5. The trials and sufferings of life not only exercise the faith, they test the Jove, of the professed follower of Jesus. The storm proves whether the vessel is seaworthy or not.
6. By enjoining upon his people obedience to commandments which are contrary to our natural inclinations. Love can vanquish even the attachment to a "darling sin."
7. Love is tested when it is invited to direct itself towards others also, for Jesus' sake. Who can love Christ, and yet hate his brother, for whom Christ died? - T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.