2 Corinthians 8:12
For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man has, and not according to that he has not.
First a willing mind. The apostle has been calling to mind the resolve which the Corinthian Church had made a year previously. They had determined to join in the collection that was being made for the poor and suffering saints at Jerusalem. It seems that the disturbed state of the Church and the delay of St. Paul's visit had led to the forgetfulness of this resolve, and little or nothing had been done in relation to it. The apostle now brings the matter again before them, reminds them that there was at one time the willing mind, and he seems delicately to suggest to them that it would be a beautiful way of testifying to the restored relations between himself and them, if they would revive this collection, carry the matter through, and give him the joy of carrying their gifts to the poor Jerusalem saints, in whom he was so deeply interested. He was thus led to dwell upon the importance, before God, of the spirit in which gifts are made. They ought to carry our hearts to him, just as the old Mosaic sacrifices carried the hearts of the worshippers. Gifts have voices which God can hear, and he reads our hearts by the help of them. Two points are here suggested.
I. MAN ESTIMATES GIFTS BY THEIR MONEY VALUE. A fair enough standard in view of the institutions that have to be sustained and the work which has to be done. The Church needs large gifts, and is compelled to ask for quantity. She needs the devotements of the rich, and is not wholly wrong in trying to raise ever higher the standard of Christian gifts for Christian uses. But the money estimate of gifts needs to be set under most careful limitations. It fails to take account of the relative circumstances of the givers. A pound is a pound, whoever may give it; but the rich man passes it over, and knows that it will not involve his going without any one thing that he wishes to have. The poor man hands it over, and knows it means wearing the threadbare coat a few months longer, or going without some personal gratification. In really worthy scales that poor man's pound weighs heavy, for there is added to it that self-denial which is, in God's sight, of great price. Man cannot discern or rightly appraise motives. The business principle too often wholly sways men in their Christian and Church relations, and men are accepted by the largeness of their contributions rather than by the largeness of the love with which they contribute.
II. GOD ESTIMATES GIFTS BY THEIR WILL VALUE. "If there be first the willing mind, there is acceptance." God seeth not as man seeth. Man looketh on the countenance; God looketh on the heart. Man appraises the value of the thing; God reads the state of the will and the purpose of the heart. Illustration may be taken from the large gift of Barnabas to the early Church. God accepted it because it was the expression of a willing mind. The gifts of Ananias and Sapphira were smaller; they were not, however, refused on this ground, but only because the will was wrong and the motive mixed and bad. The "amount" of a gift is quite as important in the sight of God as in the sight of man, because a great gift alone can express the willing mind of a man with great means. God judges proportions. He only desires to see Christian love triumphing over disabilities, and making the rich, who cling to fiches, splendidly generous, and the poor making the "poverty which had consumed them even to the very bottom" (ver. 2) yield noble and self-denying contributions. With God the question is - How much did your heart give? It is a second thing, with him, to ask - How much did your hand give? But he does expect the heart and the hand to honourably act together, the hand honestly expressing what the heart feels. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.