2 Corinthians 8:7
But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in the love we inspired in you--see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
Sermons
A Pattern of CharityE. Hurndall 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
Christian LiberalityA. D. Smith, D. D.2 Corinthians 8:7-8
Love to Christ ProvedThe Evangelist2 Corinthians 8:7-8
The Grace of LiberalityT. Moir, M. A.2 Corinthians 8:7-8
The Test of LoveCongregational Pulpit2 Corinthians 8:7-8
Appeal to the CorinthiansC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 8:7-15


A wise use had been made by the apostle of the example of the Macedonians. He had not appealed to pride, vanity, or any selfish feeling, but had simply presented a remarkable case of Christian philanthropy. Robertson very properly remarks, "Had the apostle said, 'Be not beaten by those Macedonians;' had he called natural prejudices into play - a Corinthian to yield to a Macedonian! - then all the evil passions of our nature had been stimulated." Emulation is a true principle, and may be a religious principle. The danger lies, not in the thing itself, but in its abuses, and particularly in the encouragement which it may afford to false rivalry and jealousy. In a large measure, the spirit and conduct of others make the social atmosphere we breathe, nor can we live in the world without contact with it. Goodness assumes its most attractive forms in noble examples, and, except for these, our own ideals, if they existed at all, would be very imperfect. Consistently, then, with his purpose of stimulating the Corinthians to seek a high degree of Christian excellence, the apostle sets before them in most vivid colours the liberality of the Macedonian Churches. Titus had begun, and he would have him "finish in them the same grace also." Men are channels of Divine influence to our souls, and, as such, should be acknowledged in their work. St. Paul saw God's blessing on the labours of his young friend, and he would not deprive him of the honour of completing the task. He stood out of his way, encouraged his efforts, and lent him a fatherly hand in furtherance of his undertaking. This sympathy with young men is one of his characteristic qualities, and it is worthy of warm admiration. Many an elderly officer in the Church might heed it to great advantage. Titus should have all the credit. Let the brethren at Corinth heartily second his exertions in behalf of the poor saints at Jerusalem. If they abounded "in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence," and in their love for the apostle, let them "abound in this grace also." The quality being pure, quantity was a favourite idea which he never lost an opportunity to urge. "Abound" and "abundant" flow freely from his pen. "Not by commandment" was this written. Free hearts, joyous impulses, could alone be recognized in this enterprise of humanity. This was the value of example, it was a sympathetic influence; and hence his reference to "the forwardness of others," which would test the "sincerity of their love." What a great truth is taught here, and that too so incidentally as to escape the attention of all save those who make the cultivation of discernment a constant duty! Noble examples are Divine tests; they prove, as we have said, the depth and activity of our sympathies, and in this respect supply the means of a discipline otherwise lacking. "Forwardness of others;" study its meaning. God commissions the leaders. Vast enterprises are never born of masses, but of individuals; apostles first, and then Churches; Bunyan, and two centuries of literature for the poor and illiterate; Watts and the sacred poets following; Raikes and Wesley; Martyn and Judson; successors multiplied because of their "forwardness." Having dwelt on the example of the Macedonians, the transition is easy to the Divine Exemplar. A single verse reminds them of "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," the surrender of his eternal glory, the riches of his Godhead's state, the extent of the abnegation, the earthly poverty assumed, and all for their sakes, that "through his poverty" they "might be rich." The supreme consideration must be kept in full view. Of the Macedonians he had spoken; of the "great trial of affliction," of their "deep poverty," and how it abounded "unto the riches of their liberality." Whence came this power? A new heart had been given to poverty, so that now, though its means were meagre, its social position unhonoured, its claims to influence set at nought, yet it had achieved wonders such as had never been thought possible. Macedonia had stretched out her arms of blessing to distant Jerusalem, and Gentiles and Jews long alienated were now one in the holiest of brotherhoods. It was due to the grace of Christ. It was his Spirit reproducing itself in the lives of believers. And therefore he had cited their conduct; but most of all let them remember the one great sacrifice of the incarnate Christ. Years subsequently we have in another Epistle (Philippians 2.) a similar train of thought. Age was upon him then, and life was drawing to a tragical close at Rome. Yet then, as now, then and now as throughout his ministry, the grace of the Lord Jesus was the one thought that inspired all other thoughts. It is still "advice." "Advice" is better than "commandment." They had begun the work of the collection, complete the task; they had a "readiness to will," let the effort be consummated. And, again, an important principle is brought to their notice. Was not "advice" sufficient? Would not an opinion be strong enough without a command? Yea, indeed, for a year ago the Corinthians had made a start in this matter. A willing mind is the first thing; grace begins here, and if this willing mind gives all it can, it is accepted of God, according to what "a man hath, and not according to that he hath not." Mark the solicitude of the apostle as to the education of this sentiment of giving. He cannot think of it as a thing to which they must be constrained, and, accordingly, he acknowledges the largest freedom, only it must be Christian freedom. Motive must have free play. Conscience must advance into affection, or conscience is stunted. Sensibility must be self-impelled. Nor must any conclude that he wished to oppress them that others might be relieved, "but only to establish between Jewish and Gentile Churches a reciprocity of aid in time of need" (Dr. Farrar). To establish an "equality" was his object. Do not mistake his meaning. Political, social, natural equality was utterly foreign to his thought and purpose. No revolutionist, no anarchist, no leveller, was he in any sense, in any degree, but simply the advocate of such an equality as should be produced by the sentiment of Christian liberality in the distribution of gifts. That equalizing influence was not to proceed from an arbitrary law nor from force work of any sort. It was to be spontaneous, each man a judge for himself, and the superabundance in one place was to supply the deficiency at another place, so as to secure an abundance for all. Reference is made to the manna in the wilderness. If one gathered more manna than the allotted supply, it was sent to those who had not collected enough, so that the necessities of all were met. This was the law of Judaism as between Hebrew and Hebrew, and the spirit of this law, fifteen centuries afterwards, reappears in a letter to the Corinthians. History in one portion of the world and among one people becomes prophecy in another portion and among another people. Prophecy, in turn, becomes a new history. And today, A.D. 1884, thousands in Europe and America are acting on this equalizing sentiment in the use of their property. - L.









Therefore, as ye abound in everything.
I. WHY WE OUGHT TO GIVE A PORTION OF OUR SUBSTANCE TO THE LORD. It is a duty clearly enjoined in Scripture. The practice of giving to the Lord began very early, for we read that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering to the Lord, and that Abel also brought of the firstlings of his flock and the fat thereof. And why is this duty enjoined in Scripture? There are three reasons for this.

1. To remind us of our dependence on God as our Creator and bountiful benefactor.

2. To remind us of our obligation to God as our Redeemer.

3. To promote our spiritual welfare. We are naturally selfish, and wish to retain in our own possession whatever gifts God has conferred upon us.

II. WHAT OR HOW MUCH WE SHOULD GIVE. Whatever we may think of the tenth or of the fifth, or of the early Christian examples, one thing is certain, that if our giving is to be acceptable to God it must cost us something. The measure with too many is what they can give without self-denial, or without in any way affecting their comforts or luxuries. This tenet giving in the Scriptural sense. Let us take the Divine measure, "as God hath prospered us," and use it faithfully with the hand of love.

III. WHEN WE SHOULD GIVE. Is there any Scriptural rule or suggestion on this point? (1 Corinthians 16:2). Some people profess to despise system in religious matters, and look upon it as savouring of legality. In worldly affairs system is called "the soul of business and the secret of success." If, then, we recognise its value in everything else, why despise it in giving to the Lord?

IV. HOW OR IN WHAT SPIRIT WE SHOULD GIVE.

(T. Moir, M. A.)

Consider the duty of consecrating a portion of our substance to purposes of benevolence.

I. The REASON of the duty.

1. It is the natural issue of the spirit of benevolence. God is love, and he that is begotten of Him in His own image must have a loving heart. Love delights to give — it is its nature to give; it needs no specific commandment — it is a commandment unto itself.

2. To the same result are we led, I remark further, by a regard for God's glory.

3. This brings us to mention, as another incentive to Christian liberality, the love of God's truth.

4. I add here another motive — it is that of gratitude.

5. It is a further plea for the duty before us that it benefits those who perform it. A bountiful spirit leads to temporal advantage. It favours industry, for he who delights in giving liberally will the more readily toil that he may have something to give. For a like reason it is conducive to economy. Selfishness more or less deranges our powers, and, among other harms, it puts the judgment in peril. Benevolence restores the balance of the mind. Many a man has become a bankrupt who, if the sweet spirit of charity had ruled him, raising him above grovelling aims, presenting things in their true relative importance, and allaying the fever of financial ambition, would have gone in comfortable solvency to his grave. Habits of beneficence secure, besides, the goodwill of men. But of far greater consequence is the influence of Christian liberality on our spiritual well-being. It is a precious means of grace.

II. From the reason of the duty before us we pass now to the MANNER of performing it.

1. We should give intelligently.

2. We should give cheerfully.

3. Of great importance is it that we give frequently.

4. We should give systematically.

III. We advert, in the last place, to the MEASURE of our benevolence. The language of our text is, "see that ye abound in this grace." What a man can do, and what abounding is, must depend on three conditions, jointly considered — his capital, his income, and his necessary expenses.

(A. D. Smith, D. D.)

To prove the sincerity of your love
Congregational Pulpit.
Note —

I. THAT LOVE IS THE ESSENCE OF REAL RELIGION. What we see is like the fruit of the vine, but there is a root. The gracious principle, though hidden, lives, grows, and operates. Observe —

1. Love Divine enkindles it.

2. The state (if the world expands it.

3. The Divine glory inflames it.

II. THAT THE GENUINE CHARACTER OF CHRISTIAN LOVE IS TESTED BY CIRCUMSTANCES. These circumstances are like balances to the coin, a storm to the ship, the fire to metal, or a battle to the soldier. E.g., there is —

1. The necessity of self-denial and bearing the cross. Remember Paul's conversion and subsequent life. We cannot serve God and mammon.

2. The rival claims of the world and the worship of God. There are earthly claims. Must not be allowed to stand in opposition, nor to monopolise that which belongs to God.

3. The requirement of means for the extension of the Redeemer's kingdom.Conclusion —

1. Let us fairly prove the state of our hearts.

2. Let us carefully test all our performances.

3. Let us contemplate the decisions of the judgment day.

(Congregational Pulpit.)

The Evangelist.
I. THE CLAIM OF CHRIST TO OUR LOVE. It is founded —

1. On His Divine excellence; and the relation of all that excellence to us in the character of our Saviour.

2. On His deeds of benevolence and mercy, His mediatorial work and office.

3. By the personal benefits we have derived and are daily deriving from Him.

4. It is discerned in the provision He has made for our everlasting happiness and perfection.

II. THE NATURE OF THE LOVE HE CLAIM'S FROM US.

1. It must be supreme.

2. It must be constant.

3. It must be practical. "Let us not love in word only, but in deed and in truth."

III. HOW CHRIST TRIES THE LOVE OF HIS PEOPLE.

1. By the doctrines and precepts of His Word. Proud reason finds it hard to bow to some truths.

2. By the circumstances of His cause in the world.

3. By the condition of some of His people. Many of them are in want and sickness and mental distress.

4. Our love to Christ is tried by the special circumstances of our own lot.

IV. THE MARKS WHICH PROVE OUR LOVE FALSE AND INADEQUATE. We can have no true love to Christ —

1. If we have not committed our souls to Him.

2. If we are cherishing secret sin.

3. If our attachment to any earthly object causes us to violate His commands.

4. If we are unwilling to deny ourselves for His honour or the service of His cause.

5. If we are unwilling to depart from this life that we may be for ever with Him.

(The Evangelist.)

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