The Blessings Of Helping Others
2 Corinthians 8
When we study the Books to the Corinthians we see a body of believers who had some serious problems in trying to become a working ministry of the Lord.
We have seen may spiritual problems and sadly spiritual problems will always lead to a financial shortfall.
The churches throughout Judea were suffering a great poverty and sincerely needed help to survive. In the Israel of that day if you rejected the teaching of the Pharisees you were not only not allowed to worship in the Temple but in most every case you would loose your job and any other source of income. Many of the Jews had scattered to foreign lands just to survive but those that could not, faced terrible poverty.
The only support that was available was from the “body of Christ”.
Corinth was not only a most wicked city but it was also a rich city. These of this new church had a desire to help but those controversies within the church body had not allowed that help to develop.
Today we know that the needs of missions is a never ending call.
In many places of worship today we have forgotten that giving is a part of the “Grace” of God, just as the knowledge of Christ, the love of God, and the filling of the Holy Spirit!
Giving has been lowered to just being a burden. Many see giving as just filling the coffers of the church when it should be about spreading the Word of God and aid to the body of Christ in times of need.
The “Grace” of giving should also be included in our prayers because the truth is God loves the cheerful giver!
2Co_9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.
You see God is specific, if giving has become only a burden to you then you can miss out on this love of God.
The Grace of God includes being a “cheerful giver”!
We will all stand before the Lord at one day and we should remember what He said:
Act 20:35 I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.
We know that love is the greatest sign of Christian “Grace” and we need to understand that giving for the cause of Christ “is a part of that love”!
It was Paul that wrote that “Charity” was the greatest sign of a Christian and Paul did not use the word “Love”. In our English language “Charity” is the only word that resembles the “Love of God”.
God gave us life. God gave us all our necessities. God gave us His Son that we might live forever.
If we take away “giving” then all we have left is not really much love!
No one can really understand this until we have “given” ourselves to the Lord!
*****2Co 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2Co 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
Remember Paul is writing to the Corinthians. Corinth in that day was a rich city by all standards. We can be sure there were some poor people here but like America, Corinth was a city great opportunities financially. You could get a job in Corinth if you really wanted a job!
Macedonia included all of Greece and was the doorway to Europe.
We know that Paul had already established the church in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea.
At one time Macedonia had been known for its natural resources but over time this area had been ravaged by the numerous wars and Rome had stripped this area of its wealth.
Because of these things most of the people of Macedonia were poor and had very little opportunity for that to change.
Most of the known world had realized these things and in the end the greed of Rome was Rome’s downfall.
It seems this lesson is never learned today.
Paul used these places of worship as an example to these Corinthians because they were extremely wealthy in the “Grace of God”!
Remember “Grace” is “the unmerited favor of God” and God’s grace is reflected many times in the good things that God gives so freely.
Ordinarily poverty is used as an excuse of not giving but this was not so of the people of Macedonia!
How did Paul describe these people?
1Th 2:14 For ye, brethren, became followers of the churches of God which in Judaea are in Christ Jesus: “for ye also have suffered like things of your own countrymen, even as they have of the Jews”:
How did these people react to the ‘Grace of God”?
*****2Co 8:3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and “beyond their power they were willing of themselves”;
2Co 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
The truth is they were willing to give far beyond their power to give!
In verse 2 Paul used the phrase “deep poverty” which means just at is says “poverty down to the depths”, utter poverty! These same people were giving more than all others!
What is the truth in most places of worship?
1) There are those who say they have nothing to give because they are too poor. Regardless of this fact God requires the minimum of a 10th of that income.
2) There are those who give a great deal thinking that should be enough but they do not give according to their means or they would hundreds in place of tens, or a thousand in place of a hundred.
3) There are also those rich and poor who believe the Pastor will only run people away from the church because he causes the plate to be passed so often.
All these groups of people lack the “Grace of Giving” because we all should give according to our means to give, in order for the ministries of God to succeed!
If we are to exercise the gift of faith, and the gift of love, then we need to exercise the gift of giving according to our means.
What is the truth of these Macedonians?
In verse 4 we can see that Paul even cautioned them “much intreaty” not to cause them own selves harm by their giving, “But They Insisted That Paul Receive Their Gift”!
So how is this wonderful gift obtained?
*****2Co 8:5 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.
They had an abundance of joy because they had given themselves to the Lord and they were saved and they knew it for certain!
1) They gave themselves over to the Lord!
Rom 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
Rom 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
2) They then gave themselves over to God’s representatives.
2Co 4:5 For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
2Co 4:6 For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
3) They then obeyed the will of God to carry out His will. Above all others these Macedonians had volunteered to help those in Judea who were actually dieing of starvation.
What did Jesus teach?
Mar_3:35 For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.
After all the gifts that were gathered were to aid the poor Jews that remained in Jerusalem, a people who were suffering even more greatly because they had given themselves over to the Lord!
We must understand that giving is also the means of getting!
What is God’s principle of giving?
Pro 3:9 Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase:
Pro 3:10 So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, and thy presses shall burst out with new wine.
We give so that we can receive!
This is one of those principles that the world cannot understand, just like the certainty of the “Glorified Body”.
Pro 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
Pro 3:6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
There are many good reasons to be charitable with all our possessions but the best reason is “that it shows the grace of God in our own lives”!
*****2Co 8:6 Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.
2Co 8:7 Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.
2Co 8:8 I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.
So what is stewardship?
In the Bible times, a steward was one who managed the affairs of the household of another person.
This showed a great confidence to those who held such office!
It could be said that the Apostle Paul was the steward of God’s church, “the body of Christ” and this is a function of all those who are called of God to minister the Word of God.
But the fact remains that every “born again” child of God is to be a good steward. After all we become
God’s Temple if we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit and “we are responsible for the affairs of that household”.
1Pe 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
1Pe 4:9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.
1Pe 4:10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
1) We are to give because it will remind us that we are dependent on God to meet all our needs.
2) We are to give because it will remind us that our Redeemer gave all of Himself in order that we can live forever.
3) We are to give in order to promote spiritual welfare.
The problem with us humans, is that we are born selfish and we wish to hold onto all our possessions, even those gifts that God has given to us so freely!
Some would ask then, when should we give and God gives us a good suggestion of a good time.
1Co 16:2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
We know the first day of the week in the Scriptures refer to Sunday!
Paul challenged these Corinthians to give and even excel beyond what these Macedonians had given.
They had actually began this at one time but those controversies they had been through had stopped most all support for the church and the church ministries.
1) “Faith” is our ability to trust in God and to live a victorious life.
2) “Utterance” is our ability to share the “Gospel” with others we meet.
3) “Knowledge” is our ability to understand the Word of God.
4) “Diligence” is our energy and zeal to be ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ.
5) “Love” is our ability to care for the minister of God that He has given us and to care for all brothers and sisters everywhere, along with the work of the Lord.
If we have done all these things then we are not complete unless we become “cheerful givers” also!
We should give cheerfully.
We should give frequently.
BUT, We should give intelligently.
The intent of bearing our own cross for Christ Jesus is self denial and we may also have to deny ourselves of some things, to be able to give in a Christlike manner!
God does not give us a command to give because if giving is forced or even coerced it loses all it’s benefits because it will not please God!
Giving proves the state of our hearts in the eyes of God!
We already know that love is an action word “so love is proven more by action than by word of mouth”!
1Jn 3:18 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; “but in deed and in truth”.
Again who is our example in all things?
*****2Co 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, “that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich”.
The Lord Jesus Christ was rich and as the Son of God He possessed all the nature, all the being, and all the fullness of God, who just speaks and things just happen.
**Jesus Christ dwelt in the power and the majesty of the Godhead, the Holy Trinity!
Col 2:9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
**Jesus Christ possesses every good and perfect thing!
Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
**Jesus Christ had all the worship and adoration of all heavenly things!
Rev 5:6 And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, “stood a Lamb” as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.
Rev 5:7 And he came and took the book out of the right hand of him that sat upon the throne.
But the Lord Jesus Christ gave all these things up just to come to this earth to be a substitute in death for all our sins!
Jesus became poor “for our sakes” that we through His poverty could be rich in all things in Heaven and Earth.
And these are things that we know to be true, so how can we not give a little something of our selves and our possessions that He has shared with us “for all good things truly belonged to Him”!
So what was Paul advice to these Corinthians and to all of the Church everywhere?
*****2Co 8:10 And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago.
If we take that word “expedient” as meaning “profitable” as it does, we can then understand what Paul is saying:
1Ti 6:18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;
1Ti 6:19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
Before the controversies had divided this church they had made a commitment to support missions. In fact they obligated themselves to help their brothers and sisters in Judea.
Paul had already taught about the “judgment seat of Christ” and the gain or the loss of rewards. Paul is saying, why would anyone want to change a gain into a loss!
It is certain God expects us to uphold our commitments because if not then a commitment becomes meaningless!
Certain of these Corinthians had made a commitment to help the Christians in Judea and they were persuaded that it was absolutely the right thing to do.
So what does God say?
Jas 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
Here is another case of a gain becoming a loss!
This commitment was made a year ago, so we can see that these disputes within the church and the lack of Church discipline had stopped the Church outreach which is also where a gain becomes a loss.
It was surely profitable or expedient that this church get back to the work of the Lord!
*****2Co 8:11 Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have.
2Co 8:12 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.
The greatest challenge in giving is not only to give but to give willingly and to give readily.
A church that has no outreach is not much of a church and this holds true to every individual. We must all give of ourselves in some way to the missions of the Church!
We see that Paul adds that phrase “out of that which you have”. In other words according to your own means!
If we accept what God is saying then, if we have undertaken a mission project then we need to complete that project but also that this should be a continuous and ongoing thing for all churches.
There is always a need somewhere and this will remain until Lord returns!
The world is full of sin.
The world is full of disease.
The world is full of poverty.
The world is full of death and hunger and thirst.
We know that a small child cannot hear you when their stomach is empty and so is a grownup.
Many in our world die without Christ everyday just because no one cares enough to help them.
Mar 14:7 For ye have the poor with you always, “and whensoever ye will ye may do them good”: but me ye have not always.
Until the Lord returns there will always be a need for missions and the support of those missions!
Giving can happen when we have a willing mind!
But there must also be a readiness to give when an opportunity arises.
We should judge our own selves. God accepts everyone according to what they have and not according to what they have not.
We should remember the story of the little old lady in the Temple.
Luk 21:3 And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
Luk 21:4 For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: “but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had”.
The point being that God does not expect us to give all that we have of our finances as this sweet lady had done, but in the eyes of God, her small amount counted for a much greater reward that what the others had given even though they had given a far greater amount!
God says give what we can and even if it hurts a little, no matter the amount with this thought in mind, God will judge us on “what we give compared to what we could give”. God has a way of multiplying things!
What is the truth of giving?
*****2Co 8:13 For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened:
2Co 8:14 But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:
2Co 8:15 As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
After all what is a Christian? A Christian is someone who learns the principles of Jesus Christ and then applies those principles to their own lives.
Christian still means Christlike and not worldlike and much of the church has forgotten this main principle!
We should also remember Jesus was no wimp. Jesus stood His ground on the Word of God even before all obstacles.
In the Christian mind, Christ must be all in all, the measure of all things, and the standard that we are to use to set our goals in this life!
As Christians we are all in this thing together. We are one family! If one suffers we all suffer! We should help meet the needs of one another.
The truth is, God has given all of us a certain capacity for enjoyment. If God increases our riches beyond that point of enjoyment and we hoard those things and they cause sadness in any way, we cannot blame God, we should have given that extra it to those who who do not have and stayed at the place where we enjoyed the life that God had given to us already!
More does not make happy into happier!
We should remember “the manna” that fed the children of Israel for 40 years. They could only gather what they needed and as much as they needed. If they tried to gather more than they could eat it would
spoil. If someone was sick or injured then another could gather enough for them so that they all had all that they needed.
God’s principles do not ever change and we are wrong to think so!
God still made this giving to be voluntary.
God left it in our power to keep or to give away!
God left it in our own power to give a little or to give much!
But God also gives us good advice in how to deal with giving.
Gal 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
Gal 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
We can be sure if God has provided something extra, then He will soon show us a place where that extra is needed to have an opportunity for a reward saved in Heaven but also joy in this life!
We should have this thought in mind, “that whatever is done for another Christian or to those in need, is the same as if it were done for Christ Himself”!
Mat 25:40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
Since we know that giving is truly important to the Lord and to the spread of the Gospel, then we should surely know that those who collect that ministry also have a great responsibility to make sure those offerings gets to where it is needed and it is used for what it was intended!
*****2Co 8:16 But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you.
2Co 8:17 For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you.
2Co 8:18 And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches;
2Co 8:19 And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind:
2Co 8:20 Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us:
Those that gather the collections of the church also have an important function and it should be taken very seriously!
The truth is, the “body of Christ” must always be aware of who handles the money!
These people must be trustworthy!
Titus was an evangelist who assisted the Apostles and became a church planter himself.
Titus cared for this church at Corinth as much as Paul did!
This church clearly understood this fact and placed great trust in Titus.
So those that take up the collections must also have a great love and care for the church!
The name of this other person is not as important as is his qualifications. “His praise is in the Gospel throughout all the churches”.
He was a Christian. He was treated as a brother in every church. He had a strong testimony in the “Gospel of Jesus Christ”.
It would only be a wild guess to assume that this was Luke because we cannot possibly know, and it is his qualifications that are most important!
This person had been hand picked to keep the collections secure until they were delivered to the place of their need.
You see the men who secure the collections of the church “should be chosen by the church”.
If Paul had handled these offerings himself, he would have left himself and his ministry open to being charged with confiscating or even stealing church money.
Every Pastor needs to consider these things in his own ministry!
In reality Paul sent 3 messengers to Corinth to gather this offering and we should observe another Godly principle.
Mat 18:15 Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother.
Mat 18:16 But if he will not hear thee, “then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established”.
These Corinthians had made a commitment and if they did not follow through then there would be 3 witnesses and not just the word of the Apostle Paul.
Paul wanted all men to know that he was honest and that he would never take money out of the offerings for his own use.
Paul wanted no one to question his personal conduct because he had dedicated his life to the “Gospel” and to helping people and his reputation was everything to him for his work to have meaning and to produce fruit.
This should not only be the goal of every Pastor but also for every child of God!
*****2Co 8:21 Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
Paul said above all things we give no one an occasion for suspicion, not only in the sight of all men but also in sight of the Lord.
God is not sitting in Heaven just waiting on us to make a mistake so he can punish us but He is certainly aware of all the things we do and at all times.
Psa 139:1 To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David. O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me.
Psa 139:2 Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off.
Psa 139:3 Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.
Psa 139:4 For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.
Psa 139:5 Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me.
Psa 139:6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.
If we are to be disciples of Jesus Christ then we must have a reputation that resembles Christ’s reputation and above all Christ Jesus never sinned and even those that hated Christ knew Him as a good man!
We as Christians must have a clear conscience and it must appear to the world that we have a clear conscience!
Mat 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
The two men who Paul had sent with Titus had met all these qualifications and everywhere this was known.
*****2Co 8:22 And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you.
2Co 8:23 Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ.
2Co 8:24 Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.
Paul had sent Titus who the Corinthian Church had come to trust, a Christian brother whom all the other churches had selected to trust, and this third Christian who had been tested frequently by the Apostle Paul himself.
Again if this this church was not ready to honor its commitment then there would qualified witnesses and these things could not be blamed on God’s Apostle.
Paul had requested no particular amount and remember they already were giving in support of their own church.
Paul had said to be liberal. (of bounty and not covetousness)
Paul had said to be deliberate. (Christian charity is a calm and wise thing, with courage to refuse if necessary, not an impulse but with purpose of heart)
Paul had said to be cheerful. (The Lord loves a cheerful giver)
Giving is also a proof not only of the love of God in our lives but also the love of all our brothers and sisters in Christ!
Love is an action word that calls for proof sometimes if not all the time!