See That You Abound in His Grace
2 Corinthians 7:14 For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. 15 And his affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. 16 Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything. 8: 1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. 7 But as you abound in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us--see that you abound in this grace also. (NKJV)
In this passage Paul is comparing two types of churches. First, he writes of the church in southern Greece, called Achaia. This church is the church in Corinth, to whom he is writing this letter.
He compares this church to the churches in northern Greece, called Macedonia. These are the churches of Thessalonica, Philippi and Berea.
The church in Corinth had previously been mature in their belief. However, over the past year (2 Corinthians 9:2) they have followed false teachers.
Now, Titus has returned from Corinth to Macedonia, where Paul is writing this letter, to report that they have now repented and returned to the teachings of Paul. Paul writes that he had previously “boasted” to Titus about the church in Corinth, and that even though they strayed from Pau’s teachings for a while that he was “not ashamed” of them (v. 14a). Paul’s “boasting to Titus was found true” (v. 14b).
Paul reports that Titus’ “affections are greater for you as he remembers the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him” (v. 15). Titus now has a greater affection for the Corinthian believers because they have returned to Paul’s teachings with obedience and reverence.
Therefore, Paul is now rejoicing that he has “confidence in you in everything” (v. 16). His confidence in the Corinthian believers has been restored.
Paul then compares the church in Corinth with the churches in Macedonia, who never strayed from Paul’s teachings. He writes how the churches in Macedonia have advanced in their maturity far beyond the church in Corinth.
The Macedonian churches had been very generous in their giving. Their motivation was the generosity of God’s grace that had been poured out upon them (v. 1). They were living in “deep poverty”, but they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability (vv. 2-3).
They gave without being asked. In fact, they pleaded to have the privilege to show their thankfulness to God in a material way (v. 4). The Macedonian Christians “first gave themselves to the Lord” and then gave financially to Paul, as is God’s will (v. 5).
Paul is sending Titus back to Corinth to deliver this letter. He is urging Titus to “complete this grace in you as well”, just as the Macedonians had completed their grace (v. 6). Paul writes that since the Christians in Corinth excel in obeying God in all other ways, he is sure that they will obey God in their giving (v. 7).
Giving has always been a part of God’s plan for His followers, dating back to the Old Testament. The Hebrews were commanded to bring gifts to the Levites, who were in charge of the tabernacle and the doing of God’s work.
God does not need our money, our talents, or anything else to accomplish His will. If we do not give of ourselves to His work, He will find others, who have the hearts of the Macedonians, who will willingly, without being asked, carry out His work.
The Macedonians were “imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints” (v. 4). They already had experienced the grace of God and desired continued blessing. They were excited at giving to further the work of ministering to the saints, their fellow Christians.
This passage says “they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” Giving should come out of our commitment to God in all the other areas of our lives. It should be a natural part of the overall giving of ourselves to Christ.
Giving to the work of the Lord is a sign of a mature Christian. Paul closed this passage with words to the Corinthian Christians that also apply to each of us – “see that you abound in this grace”, the grace of giving.
Online Bible Commentary