Gaebelein's Annotated Bible
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;II. THE MINISTRY OF GIVING. Chapters 8-9
1. The Examples and Principles of Giving.
There is to be a practical ministry in giving, especially in remembering the poor of the flock. He is anxious now to lay this responsibility upon their hearts. In the first epistle he had written them that his glory was in giving the gospel gratuitously. He would not take anything from the Corinthians for himself, but he wants their gifts for others. He was making up a collection for the poor saints in Judea and Jerusalem; of this he writes to them. Thus Gentile believers were to show their appreciation for the blessing which they had received through the Jews, for salvation is of the Jews.
We also see in this an illustration of the oneness of the body of Christ, how the members are to minister to each other. Great grace in this ministry had been bestowed upon and manifested by the churches in Macedonia. They were themselves stricken with great affliction. They were very poor, but their deep poverty did not stint their gifts; they joyfully gave and abounded in the riches of liberality. These poor, afflicted Macedonian saints had even prayed the apostle with much entreaty to receive the gift from their hands. And the secret of it was that they had given themselves first to the Lord. All else was the outflow of this self-surrender. In all this the apostle rejoiced greatly, and therefore he exhorts the Corinthians to abound in this grace also. But the greatest example, which should constrain to abundant giving is the Lord Jesus Himself. He was rich and became poor, even for such as the Corinthians were, “that through His poverty ye might be rich.” (“His Riches--Our Riches,” by A.C.G., unfolds the three leading truths of this precious word. The eternal Riches of the Son of God; His deep poverty in our behalf, and His Riches in resurrection-glory.)
What confidence the apostle had in the Corinthians that they would indeed abound in this grace. They had begun a year before not only to do, but to forward also. He urges them to act now in performing what they had begun. It depends upon the willing mind: without this giving has no value at all. But if there is the willing mind, one is accepted according to what he has, and not according to that he hath not.
And in all this ministration Paul exercised great caution, “avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us, providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.” There is always danger of reproach in these matters. Messengers were chosen to travel with the apostle “with this grace (the collections) which is administered by us to the glory of the self-same Lord, and for a witness of your ready mind.” The apostle knew the devices of the enemy and therefore watchfully guards against suspicion and mischievous insinuations. Alas! what havoc the filthy lucre, the love of money, covetousness, which is idolatry, has worked in the professing church, and what offenses have been given by it to unbelievers.