Attitude Toward Giving

The collection was a freewill offering, but  Paul expected that it be given in the proper spirit. He made a special effort to clarify the meaning and significance of this offering.

A. Giving Is a Privilege: Apparently, Paul did not ask the Macedonians to participate in the collection because they were poor. Yet, to Paul's surprise, they begged and insisted on "the privilege of sharing in the service to the saints" (2 Corinthians 8:4). The Greek term translated "privilege" is charis, which is usually translated "grace," and here it means "gracious act"; that is, doing something that is considered to be a 78 For the Christian it is a privilege to be able to perform an act of grace toward others. The Macedonians had received the grace of God (2 Corinthians 8:1 ), and now they considered it a privilege to allow that grace to manifest itself through them by helping others.

B. Giving Willingly: The Macedonians gave their offerings "entirely on their own" (2 Corinthians 8:3). Paul did not ask them to give; they gave on their own The Greek term authaietos = "on their own" means "voluntarily." Giving should be a free decision of the heart (2 Corinthians 9:7). Giving from the heart means that the offering is not given reluctantly or under compulsion. The term lupe = "reluctantly" is usually translated in the New Testament as "hurt, pain." Here it refers to those who consider giving to be painful to them but who do not dare to say no. They give, but they do it reluctantly. The term anagke = "compulsion" means acting under the control or influence of someone or something other than one's own volition. It denies the element of freedom in the subject of the action. Compulsion could be the result of the pressure of the group or of  the leader, making the individual feel that she or he does not have any choice but to give.

Giving reluctantly or under compulsion is contrasted by Paul with the attitude of joy that should characterize the giver (2 Corinthians 9:7). It is this inner, positive disposition and not the amount given that makes the gift acceptable to God (2 Corinthians 8:12).

C. Giving Generously: God's abundant blessings should move the Christian to give generously (2 Corinthians 9: 11, 13). The Greek term apI6tes = "generosity" is a significant one but difficult to render into English. The common translation is "simplicity, sincerity."

The term is difficult to translate because it bears a range of meanings, which are expressed in English by several different terms. In 2 Corinthians 8:2, the term is used to describe the Macedonians as people of "simplicity, sincerity, uprightness, frankness," as well as "generosity and liberality." Together these terms express the ancient ideal of the simple life. According to this cultural ideal, people who live the simple life can be expected to show generosity in their giving and in their hospitality.79

For Paul, the simple and generous life of the Christian is an imitation of the attitude of their Lord (2 Corinthians 8:9). At times this generosity expresses itself by giving more than one is able to give (8:3), but Paul expects the Corinthians to give only according to their means. Even so, they should try to excel in giving, to abound in the grace of giving (8:7).

D. Giving and Self-Giving: Paul was impressed by the unexpected involvement of the Macedonians in the collection and credited their unselfish disposition to the fact that "they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us" (2 Corinthians 8:5). Every offering is, in a sense, the offering of the individual in consecration to God and in service to His church ("us"). Hence, an offering is the embodiment of a disposition of the heart, of our willingness to surrender and consecrate our lives to the Lord.80 

 

Extracted from the book, Stewardship Roots by Angel M. Rodriguez, pp 92-93

 

 


79. Bertz, 2 Corinthians, pp. 44, 45
80. See H. Balz, "Leitourgia," EDNT, vol 2, pp. 34, 49