So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich. Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving.2 Cor 8:6-11
Titus was the one who first went to the Corinthians a year before and told them of the offering for the brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. They planned to contribute to that need. Now Paul is saying they were urging Titus to go back again and encourage the Corinthians to finish what they started. To do what they purposed in their heart to do, follow through with their plan to give. You excel in so many ways, now I want you to excel in giving. I am not commanding you to do it. God doesn’t work that way. But it is a test to see if you meant what you said. I am testing your love by comparing it with that of other churches. He has already told them how the poor churches of Macedonia have given beyond their means. The Macedonians were close neighbours and no doubt there was friendly rivalry between them. Paul used the example of the Macedonians to kick start the Corinthian effort or maybe their shame.
Then he moves on to another example. Christ though he was rich became poor so you might become rich. In stacking up these examples he is saying of Corinthians it is time to fulfill your promise. Put your money where your mouth is. A year ago you purposed to give a contribution to the collection for the Jerusalem church. You were among the first to pledge to give. But it seems they were the last to follow through on it. Now is the time to make good on your promise. Be as eager now to do it as when you were caught up in the fervour of the moment and pledged to do it. But it is not a command, you have to want to do it. We all know when it comes to money it is so easy to manipulate and use all sorts of tactics to force us to give. We have all experienced the manipulation. It is so easy to do. Some say Paul is using manipulation here with the examples he uses and comparison with the Macedonians etc. The decision must always ultimately be theirs / ours. Paul will go on to say subsequently – God loves a cheerful giver. Don’t give because you feel the screws being tightened. Give because you want to give. Give because you are eager to give. Give because you beg to be a part of it (See the previous Gem).
But whatever you do, finish what you started. So many of us purpose to do something and then don’t get around to it. Follow through while the passion to give is there. I told you in Bible Gems 253 of how in 1980 I received a substantial amount of money from a salary rise that was backdated in high school teaching in New Zealand. We planned to replace our aged car. But we attended the Sunday night service and heard Eddie Cairns talking about the need for Bibles in China. How they were planning to take a million bibles into China for the believers there. We both felt convicted to give the whole of the amount that we receive from the backpay to Bible for China. Tania said to me, “I have the cheque book in my bag. When should we give it?” I said, “Now. Let’s do it before we change our minds.” We knew us. There are times we purpose to do something but we don’t move past the purpose stage to the action. Action the things you plan to do. If we had waited, who knows. There may well have arisen a “need” of our own that would dissuade us from giving to the cause of Bibles for China. Finish what you started. Do what you purpose in your heart to do.
I told you in Bible Gem 253 how our life changed after that and what God led us out into. I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if we had missed the opportunity then to give and had fallen back from our purpose. Make sure you fulfil your promises to God. Action the intentions of the heart.
Jesus paid the price. You get to keep the change.Ian Vail
Don’t give to those who are likely to give back to you; give to those who can’t give to you.Ian Vail