2 Corinthians 8
In Acts 11:28-30, when the Spirit through Agabus foretold of a coming famine; the disciples decided it would be proper to send financial help to assist the poor believers in Jerusalem. In 1 Corinthians 16:1-4 Paul describes this effort as, "the collection for the saints." He encourages the people to set money aside each week for the gift to the Jerusalem believers.
2 Corinthians 8 is Paul's reminder and encouragement to the church at Corinth to finish what they started a year ago (verse 10). As the time of Paul's trip to Jerusalem draws near, he reminds them not just of their preparations but what others are doing to help the saints in Jerusalem.
There are many men and women God has used to mature my faith, a significant number of whom I have never met. I do look forward to getting to know them when we worship around the throne together. John Piper is in my top five. His explanation of 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 is a small sample of his God-given gift to teach His Word. Please follow the link to Abundance of Joy, the title of his instruction. The video is about seven minutes long.
Piper makes clear it is God's grace that initiates and motivates the actions of the Macedonians. Similarly, we see God's activity in Titus in 2 Corinthians 8:16-17. "But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord." God placed the care for the Corinthians in Titus' heart, but of his own accord, Titus responded.
Ephesians 2:10 says, "We are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." It appears both the Macedonians and Titus were obedient to fulfill the good works God had prepared for them. In 2 Corinthians 8:11 Paul challenges the church by saying "So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it."
Have you ever started a "good work" God prepared for you and struggled to finish? When that happens, what do you do? Piper's focus on the joy of the Macedonians and fact God loves a cheerful giver convicts me. Sometimes when I struggle to finish a task God has set before me, I just "gut it up" and finish. I must confess at that point little or no joy or cheerfulness.
My favorite John Piper quote is "God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him."
LORD God, our desire is for You to be glorified in those works You uniquely prepared for us. Forgive us for losing sight of that fact when we struggle. Please place people like Paul and Silas in our lives to encourage us to finish what we start. Also, give us eyes to see when our brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus are struggling so we might be an encouragement to them for Your glory. We want to find our satisfaction in You and those kingdom tasks You prepared for us to walk in.