2 Corinthians 8:16
But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same devotion I have for you.
Sermons
Expected Proof of Professed LoveC. H. Spurgeon.2 Corinthians 8:16-24
Prudential Management; Care to Avoid BlameC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 8:16-24
Thanksgiving to God for Ministerial CareMatthew Henry.2 Corinthians 8:16-24
The Collection for the Poor Christians in JerusalemF. W. Robertson, M. A.2 Corinthians 8:16-24
The Double Standard of DutyHomiletic Monthly2 Corinthians 8:16-24
Twelve Causes of DishonestyH. W. Beecher.2 Corinthians 8:16-24
St. Paul has given us many sketches of himself, especially much insight into his varying moods; and in these chapters (7 and 8) he interests us in the character of Titus. The section opens with thanksgiving to God, who has inclined the heart of his young friend towards the Corinthians and awakened his zeal in behalf of their welfare. No doubt it had occurred to Titus to undertake the project of collecting for the Jerusalem Church, but he had not broached the subject to the apostle. It lay quiet in his heart, doing the Spirit's work, expanding and strengthening his purpose, yet nursed in silence. "While I was musing, the fire burned." St. Paul had presented the matter to him and found him willing, ready, and zealous to enter on the task. "More forward [more earnest], of his own accord he went unto you." Two brethren of reputation had been chosen by the Churches to accompany Titus, and the three travellers, having this loving embassy in hand, would manifest "this grace," so that they and he as coworkers in the ministration would glorify God. Not enough for the apostle to honour Christ in the gifts alone, but he would enhance the glory by the manner of doing the work. The way of performing it should be exceptional, impressive, and great hearted, and thus the very mode of the act should prove a blessing as well as the thing done. For this course another reason existed. Appearances should always be consulted. No one can afford to put himself above them, to neglect, and still less to despise, them. Circumstances have their laws, and they must be obeyed. The contribution was "abundant," and he would take all possible precaution in the administration, lest the enemies of his apostleship should invent and propagate some new slander about him. The inspired man, the ambassador, the pioneer of a new Europe, was not ashamed to practise the lowly code of common sense and put a very strong emphasis on prudence. Hence his extreme caution. Blameless in the sight of God, he would be blameless in the eyes of men. And now a commendation of our brother, and a special word in behalf of Titus, "my partner and fellow helper," not forgetting to say "partner and fellow helper concerning you" and to exhort the Corinthians to make good his boasting to the Macedonian Churches on their behalf. So ends this admirable chapter. Is it not a beautiful pendant to that lamp which, for eighteen hundred years, in the thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians, has hung out its blaze of splendour before the world? - L.







But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus.
1. We may look up, and give thanks to God for what they are.

2. We may look back, and give thanks to God for what they were. Now these two will very much consist together — the praising of Titus, and the praising of God for Titus.

I. IT IS MENTIONED TO THE PRAISE OF TITUS THAT HE HAD IN HIS HEART AN EARNEST CARE FOR THE CORINTHIANS. Observe, what service he did was from a principle within, from something in his heart; there is the fountain. Nor is any work of piety or charity properly a good work unless it be a heart work. It was a principle of care that actuated him in this service. The word οπουδη signifies a close application and intention of mind to the business he was employed in, a concern to have it done well, fear lest there should be any mistake or miscarriage in it, diligence, industry, and expedition in the prosecution of it. What Titus found to do for the glory of God, and the good of the souls of men, he did it with all his might, and made a business of it. We translate it an earnest care, his heart was upon, and he left no stone unturned to bring it to a good issue. Now in the earnest care that Titus had for the churches, we are to consider him both in general, as a minister of the gospel, and in particular, as an agent in the work of charity.

1. Let us consider him as an evangelist, for so Timothy and he and many others were. He was an assistant to the apostles, both in planting churches and in watering those that were planted. That which Titus is here commended for, is the earnest care he had for those of the Church of Corinth, and for their spiritual welfare. And concerning this we may observe —(1) Though Titus was not under any particular obligation to the Corinthians, as their settled pastor, yet he had an earnest care for them, and they were very much influenced by his care, and were very observant of what he said to them. He did not ask, "What are they to me?" nor was he asked what he had to do to concern himself about them. God is no respecter of persons in His bounty, nor must he be so in ours. Titus had an earnest care in his heart to make himself a blessing wherever he comes, and such should we have; we must study to serve some good purpose in every place where Providence casts our lot. The more extensive our usefulness is, the more it resembles His goodness whose tender mercies are over all His works.(2) Though Titus had many to take care of, many churches that he visited and interested himself in the affairs of, yet his care for each of them was an earnest care. The stream of his pious concern ran broad, and yet it ran deep. The extensiveness of his care abated nothing of the earnestness of it. Some are made careless by the greatness of their undertaking, they grasp at too much, and then think that will excuse them in their neglects. Though a wise man would not thrust himself into a hurry of business, nor have more irons in the fire than he can look after, yet a good man would covet a fulness of business, according as his capacity is, that whenever his Master comes he may be found doing.(3) Though there were others who had the care of the Corinthians, and whose business it was to direct, exhort, and quicken them, yet Titus showed the same care for them that they did; not that he would intrude into other men's office, or take their work out of their hands, but he would strengthen their hands, and carry on their work, would second what they said, and add thereto many like words. He saw there was need of all the help that might be for the furtherance of the gospel there. Let us now see what improvement we may make of this part of Titus's care as a minister, thus in some measure copied out.

1. It sets a good example before ministers whose hearts should in like manner be full of earnest care about the work they have to do, and the great trust committed to them; and happy were it for the Church if they were all thus.

2. It lays an engagement upon people, who have been or are under the care, the earnest care, of faithful ministers.(1) Examine yourselves how you have reproved under his earnest care for you, and whether your profiting has appeared m any proportion to the opportunities you have enjoyed; whether your growth in knowledge and grace has been answerable to the care that has been taken of you, and the pains that have been taken with you.(2) If ministers have and should have such an earnest care for your souls, should not you much more have an earnest, a more earnest, care for your own souls?(3) If ministers must have this earnest care for the souls of those under their charge, surely parents and masters of families ought to have some care, to have an earnest care, for the spiritual welfare of those under their charge, their children, their servants, to restrain them from that which would be to the prejudice and ruin of their souls, and to provide that for them which is necessary to their well-being.

2. We now come to consider Titus as an active instrument at this time in a work of charity that was on foot.(1) It is easy to apprehend that herein he showed an earnest care for the poor saints at Jerusalem, for whose use this collection was made, and a great concern for them, that they should be speedily and plentifully relieved in their present distress; and they would have reason to say, "Thanks be to God, that put into the heart of Titus this care" for us and our families, for otherwise we might have perished. Titus heard what straits they were reduced to, and as one who put his soul into their souls' stead, laid out himself to get supply for them. Though Titus was a Greek, and was never circumcised, as Timothy was, and upon that account the saints at Jerusalem (many of whom retained too great an affection for the ceremonial law) were perhaps cool towards him, yet he was active to do them service, as Paul also was, though he was the apostle of the Gentiles, so our liberality must not be confined to those who are just of our own sentiment and way. This was the good work that Titus had this earnest care to help forward.(2) It is as true, though not so easily apprehended, that Titus showed as earnest a care for the Corinthians, whom he persuaded to do good, as for the saints at Jerusalem, whom he desired that this good might be done to. Now Titus had an earnest care for the Corinthians, that they who came not behind in any gift, might not come behind in this gift; he was in care that they should not be slow in their contributions, because Paul had boasted of them, that Achaia was ready a year ago (2 Corinthians 9:2); and in care that they should not be illiberal in them, but that what was gathered should be considerable: he was in care that they should give like themselves. The Corinthians were generally a rich people, and lived great; whence it became a proverb, "Every man cannot pretend to live at Corinth." Now Titus was jealous of them, lest they should pinch their charity to feed their luxury. The particular kindness he had for this Church of Corinth did not put him upon contriving how he might excuse them from this good work, or make it easy to them, that it might be the more kind to him; but on the contrary, because he loved them, he was very earnest with them to do more than otherwise they would have done.I would endeavour, therefore, for the amending of this matter, to make it out that those are to be accounted your friends who, with prudence and discretion, propose to you proper objects of charity, and press you to give liberally to them.(1) They would have you to do that which is your duty, a plain, necessary, and great duty, which God requires of all those whom He has entrusted with this world's goods.(2) They would have you do that which will be your honour, and which will put a reputation upon you, and therefore it must be looked upon as an instance of their earnest care for your preferment.(3) They would have you do that which you will have comfort in, and advantage by, in this world, and therefore you are to reckon them your friends who have a care for you.(4) They would have you do that which will be fruit abounding to your account in the day of recompence.

II. IT IS MENTIONED TO THE PRAISE OF GOD, THAT HE PUT THIS EARNEST CARE INTO THE HEART OF TITUS FOR THEM; AND THANKS ARE GIVEN TO HIM FOR IT. Now thanks be to God, who by His providence brought Titus to Corinth, and by His grace excited and enabled him to do this good office there. See how solicitous blessed Paul is upon all occasions to ascribe the glory of all the good that was done, whether by others or by himself, to the grace of God, and to own in it the influences and operations of that grace.

1. That God can put things into men's hearts beyond what was expected. He is the Sovereign of the heart, not only to enjoin it what He pleases by His law, but to influence it, and to infuse into it by His providence and grace as He pleases. He has access to men's hearts. The way of man is not in himself, he cannot think what he will, but the wise God can overrule him. Let no man boast of his free thought, when whatever devices are in men's hearts, it is not their counsel, but the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand. See in this how God governs the world, by the hold He has of the consciences of men.

2. That whatever good is in the heart of any, it is God that puts it there. If Titus have in his heart an earnest care for the spiritual welfare of the Corinthians, though he is a very good man, and one whom much good may be expected from, yet even this is not of himself, it is not to be called a natural affection, it is a gracious one. If we have an earnest care for our own souls, and for their spiritual and eternal welfare, it is God that puts it into our hearts, that gives it to us, so the word here used signifies, it is He that plants it in us.

3. That Christ's ministers are in a particular manner all that, and that only, to His churches that He makes them to be. They are stars that shine with a borrowed light, and shed no other benign influences but what are derived from the Sun of Righteousness. If they have a care, an earnest care, a natural care, for the souls committed to their charge, it is God who has put it into their hearts, it is His grace in them that makes them blessings to the places where they are. We must therefore look up to God, by prayer, for that grace which is necessary to make the stewards of the mysteries of God both skilful and faithful.

4. That the grace of God is particularly to be seen and owned in the progress and success of any work of charity, as this here, which Titus was active in among the Corinthians. In this we may be tempted to think there needs no more but that common concurrence of the Divine Providence which is necessary to the negotiating of every other affair; but it seems by this we have as much need of the working of the Spirit and grace of God to enable us to give alms well, as to enable us to pray and preach well.Let us now close all with some inferences to these observations.

1. If this be so, then those who do good have nothing to glory in; for whatever good they do it was God that put it into their hearts to do it, and therefore He must have all the glory. Boasting is hereby for ever excluded. This forbids us to trust to our own good works, as if by them we could merit anything at the hand of God.

2. If this be so, then those who have any good done them, either for soul or body, must give thanks to God for it, who raised up those who were the instruments of it, and put it into their hearts to do it, and perhaps to do it with an earnest care. We ought indeed to acknowledge their kindness and to be grateful to them, but that must be in token of our gratitude to God, who, in making them His agents, made them His receivers. But we must look above and beyond them.

3. If this be so, let us hereby be engaged and quickened to do all the good we can in our places; to do the good the Corinthians did, that is, to contribute largely and freely for the support and encouragement of poor saints according to the ability God has given us; to do the good Titus did, that is, to solicit the cause both of the necessitous and of the deserving, and to procure assistance for them. Hereby we shall evidence that God, by His grace, has put some good into our hearts, which the good we do is the fruit and product of, and by which the tree is known. Hereby likewise we shall give occasion to many to praise God for us, and for the good which by His grace we are inclined and enabled to do.

4. This may be matter of comfort and support to us when useful instruments are removed from us.

(Matthew Henry.)

(text and chap. 2 Corinthians 9.): —

I. THE MODE OF COLLECTING THE CONTRIBUTION.

1. St. Paul entrusted this task to three messengers: to Titus, who was himself eager to go; to a Christian brother whom the churches had selected as their almoner; and to another whose zeal had been tested frequently by St. Paul himself.

2. The reasons for sending these messengers.(1) To give the Corinthians time (2 Corinthians 9:3). Observe. the tender wisdom of this proceeding. Every one knows how different is the feeling with which we give when charity is beforehand, from that with which we give when it comes side by side with debts and taxes. The charity which finds us unprepared is a call as hateful as that of any creditor whom it is hard to pay.(2) To preserve their reputation for charity. For if the Corinthians were not ready, their inability to pay would be exhibited before the messengers. Observe —(a) The just value which the apostle set on Christian reputation. For the inability of the Corinthians would be like insolvency, and would damage their character. We all know how insolvency damages the man, how he feels humbled by it, and "ashamed" before men.(b) The delicacy of the mode in which the hint is given: "We (that we say not, ye) may not be ashamed." St. Paul makes it a matter of personal anxiety. Thereby he appealed not to their selfish feelings, but to everything which was noble or high within them. The Corinthians would feel, We cannot bear that Paul should be disgraced. This is a great principle. Appeal to the highest motives, whether they be there or no, for you make them where you do not find them. Arnold trusted his boys, and all attempt at deceiving him ceased forthwith. When Christ appealed to the love in the heart of the sinful woman, that love broke forth pure again.(3) To preserve his own reputation. If so large a sum had been entrusted to him alone he might have been suspected of appropriating a portion to himself (vers. 20, 21). In this is to be observed St. Paul's wisdom. He knew that the world would scan his every act and word, and attribute all conceivable and even inconceivable evil to what he did in all honour. Now, because the bare conception of malversation was impossible to him, we might have expected him to forget that the world would not think it equally impossible. For to the pure all things are pure. It is to such — men guileless of heart — that Christ says, "Be ye wise as serpents." Consider how defenceless St. Paul would have been had the accusation been made! Moreover, though he were to be acquitted, a charge refuted is not as if a charge had never been made: Years after, the oblivious world, remembering only the accusation, and forgetting the fulness of the refutation, asks, "But were there not some suspicious circumstances?" No innocence will shield, no honour, nor integrity bright as the sun itself, will keep off altogether the biting breath of calumny. Therefore it is that he says, "Let not your good be evil spoken of." Therefore it is that he, avoiding the possibility of this, sent messengers to collect the money, "providing for things honest in the sight of all men."

II. THE MEASURE OF THE AMOUNT. The apostle did not name a sum to the Corinthians, but counselled them to be —

1. Liberal: "As a matter of bounty, and not as of covetousness." He did not speak as we often preach — in an impassioned manner in order to get a large collection. Yet he plainly told them that a large contribution was what God asked. In the multitudinous charities for which you are solicited, give liberally somewhere, in God's name, and to God's cause. But the cases must depend on yourselves, and should be conscientiously adopted.

2. Deliberate: "Every man according as he purposeth in his heart." Distinguish this deliberate charity from giving through mere impulse. Christian charity is a calm, wise thing; it has, too, courage to refuse. A Christian man will not give to everything; he will not give because it is the fashion; because an appeal is very impassioned, or because it touches his sensibilities. He gives as he "purposeth in his heart." Here I remark that often the truest charity is not giving but employing.

3. Cheerful: "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver."

III. THE MEASURE OF THE REWARD. As in all spiritual rewards it is exactly proportioned to the acts done. The law of the spiritual harvest is twofold.

1. In reference to quantity: "He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly." Hence may be inferred the principle of degrees of glory hereafter (cf. the Parable of the Talents). The right hand and left of Christ in His kingdom are given only to those who drink of His cup and are baptized with His baptism.

2. In reference to kind. The reward of an act of charity is kindred with the act itself. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." A harvest of wheat comes not from sown barley, etc. Thus also is it in the spiritual world. Now here often a strange fallacy arises. Men sow their carnal things — give their money, for example, to God, and expect to reap the same. In pagan times fishermen or farmers sacrificed their respective properties, and expected a double fishery or harvest in return. The same pagan principle has come down to us. Some persons "lend to the Lord," in order that He may repay them with success in business, or an advance in trade. The fallacy lies in this: the thing sown was not money, but spirit, e.g., the poor widow gave two mites, but God took account of sacrifice. The sinful woman gave an alabaster box of ointment, valued by a miserable economist at three hundred pence. God valued it as so much love. Now God is not going to pay these things in coin of this earth. He will repay them with spiritual coin in kind. In the particular instance now before us, what are the rewards of liberality which St. Paul promises to the Corinthians? They are —

(1)The love of God (ver. 7).

(2)A spirit abounding to every good work (ver. 8).

(3)Thanksgiving on their behalf (vers. 11, 12, 13).A noble harvest! but all spiritual. Give, and do not expect your money to be returned, like that of Joseph's brethren in their sacks'mouths. When you give to God, sacrifice, and know that what you give is sacrificed, and is not to be got again, even in this world; for if you give, expecting it back again, there is no sacrifice; charity is no speculation in the spiritual funds, no wise investment, to be repaid with interest either in time or eternity!

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men
Only extraordinary circumstances can give the appearance of dishonesty to an honest man. Usually, not to seem honest, is not to be so. The quality must not be doubtful like twilight, lingering between night and day and taking hues from both; it must be daylight, clear and effulgent. No one has honesty without dross, until he has honesty without suspicion.

1. Some men find in their bosom from the first a vehement inclination to dishonest ways. Knavish ways are inherited from dishonest parents.

2. A child naturally fair-minded may become dishonest by parental example. He may be taught to be sharp in bargains, and vigilant for every advantage. Little is said about honesty, and much about shrewd traffic. Whatever profit breaks no legal statute — though gained by falsehood — is considered fair.

3. Dishonesty is learned from one's employers.

4. Extravagance is a prolific source of dishonesty. The desire to be thought affluent; to outrival others in display.

5. Debt is an inexhaustible fountain of dishonesty. The debtor learns cunning tricks, concealments, excuses.

6. Bankruptcy, although a branch of debt, deserves separate mention.

7. There is a circle of moral dishonesties practised because the law allows them. Gentlemen who can break the whole of God's law so adroitly as to leave man's law unbroken.

8. Political dishonesty breeds dishonesty of every kind. The idea that all is fair in politics has to be smitten.

9. A corrupt public sentiment produces dishonesty.

10. Financial agents are especially liable to the temptations of dishonesty. Their whole attention falls directly upon naked money. The hourly sight of it whets the appetite.

11. Executive clemency, by its frequency, has been a temptation to dishonesty. Who will fear to be a culprit when a legal sentence is the prelude of pardon?

12. Criminal speculations are prolific of dishonesty. Speculation is the risking of capital in enterprises greater than we can control, or in enterprises whose elements are not all calculable.

(H. W. Beecher.)

Homiletic Monthly.
The language is peculiar; as though the human standard were a step higher than the Divine; as though a Christian were in more danger of coming short of honesty before men than before God. St. Paul really means, however, that we are to keep both standards in view.

I. THE HUMAN STANDARD OF DUTY.

1. It partly serves to interpret the Divine law, not fully, but in important measure.

2. It restrains us from reading the law according to our own interests, which is a constant danger. "Private interpretation" has danger in it.

3. It is a law over us that we are more or less stringently held to obey. Its penalty is visible; and so it educates us to obedience.

II. THE DIVINE LAW.

1. It is stricter than man's law. We may well say to ourselves if men demand this, God demands more.

2. The Divine law considers our motives in all their extent, and holds us to account according to our intent, our power, and opportunity.

3. The Divine law demands our best; men will take less; God asks honesty and fidelity as we know them, not as men define them.

(Homiletic Monthly.)

Wherefore shew ye to them... the proof of your love
1. In every believer's heart there is —

(1)Love to God. He cannot else be a child of God.

(2)Love to Christ. How could he be a Christian otherwise? As a consequence of this.

(3)Love to the brotherhood.

2. Where there is true love in the heart it becomes a working principle. It is a vital principle, and out of its growth there comes fruit.

I. WHAT IS THE EXCELLENCE OF THIS LOVE THAT WE SHOULD BE SO ANXIOUS TO PROVE IT? It is —

1. Divine in its origin. We should never have loved if God had not first loved us. It is, therefore, a precious thing, and we ought to take heed that we assuredly possess it, and so to live that others may be convinced that it rules our spirits.

2. Surpassing in its energy, for true love to God exceeds all other love. This affection, like Aaron's rod, must swallow up all others, and must therefore produce its own proof. If it were some minor passion we might not be so particular about it.

3. Vital in its necessity. If a man does not love God, Christ, and His people, then the life of God does not dwell in him. Hence the importance that the proofs of our love should be unmistakable.

4. Warranted by the facts of the case. Love to God — I will not spend a word in justifying it. Love to Christ — how can it be needful to commend it to you? "Love so amazing, so Divine," etc.

5. Eminent in its achievements. It makes Christians strong. Faith laughs at impossibilities, and cries, "It must be done"; but love performs the deed, for "faith worketh by love." What have not men done out of love to Christ?

II. WHAT IS THIS PROOF? As regards —

1. God and Christ. If you love Him you will keep His commandments, seek to honour Him, be anxious to extend His rule, long for communion with Him, grieve when you grieve Him, long to be like Him.

2. God's ministers. If they speak well of you, do not let them have cause to retract their holy boasting, and to say with tears, "I was deceived in these people." If any have brought you to Christ, be an honour to them and to the gospel that they preach.

3. God's people.(1) Go and join them. Do as she did who said, "Whither thou goest, I will go;... thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God."(2) When you have joined the church, show a proof of your love by hearty fellowship.(3) Unite with them in service.

4. The ungodly. Try to snatch the firebrands from the flame. If you can preach Christ. Speak of Him to your companions.

III. WHY IS THIS PROOF CALLED FOR?

1. True love always longs to prove itself. It does not need a command to do it. It is waiting for an opportunity. It is so with your domestic life. In a far higher degree, what a delight it is to a Christian to do something for Jesus!

2. That it may become a blessing to other people. It would be of no use for the Corinthians to sing a hymn about charity while the poor saints at Jerusalem had not a loaf to eat.

3. It is reasonable that you should do so. God did not love you and keep it to Himself; He gave His Son.

IV. WHO IT IS THAT CALLS FOR THIS PROOF OF OUR LOVE. I will leave out everybody else and say, it is your Lord, your own dying, living Saviour who says, "Show Me the proof of your love." I will tell you how He is saying it.

1. Affliction has come into your house. There is a dear one dead; and Jesus says, "Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou Me more than these dear ones? If so, thou wilt part with them and not complain."

2. Perhaps you have had a difference lately with one to whom you ought to be united in friendship. Now your Lord and Master says to you, "Show Me the proof of your love. Forgive him for My sake even to seventy times seven; and if you have wronged him confess the wrong, and humble yourself for My sake."

3. But possibly there are some here who have had in their minds the project of doing something unusual for Jesus, or the church, or the poor, or for missions to the heathen. Jesus says, "I have prospered you: when others have failed in business I have taken care of you. Show Me the proof of your love." Will you not hear His call?

(C. H. Spurgeon.).

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