Some have criticized the church for talking too much about money. But Jesus made it clear that our attitude toward our finances is a spiritual matter. He urged His disciples to store up treasures in heaven, warning: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt. 6:21).
Paul calls giving a “grace” in today’s passage. For the Christian, giving is not a duty but a gift. The apostle did not command the Corinthians to participate in the offering for the poor believers in Jerusalem (v. 8). Instead, he encouraged them to follow the example of the Macedonian believers, who were poor themselves. They were so eager to share that they begged Paul (vv. 3–4). There is an edge in Paul’s observation that the Corinthians ought to “excel” in the grace of giving since they excel in the other gifts (v. 7). It may suggest that Corinthian commitment to participate in the offering had begun to waver.
The apostle wanted the Corinthians to understand that the offering was not intended to create hardship for the Corinthians so that others might be relieved. Instead, the goal was sufficiency—that there would be enough for everyone (v. 14). This standard was established by God when He provided manna in the wilderness (v. 15; Ex. 16:18). Paul was also concerned that the procedure for collecting and distributing these funds would be above board. Paul made the Corinthians aware of the need, urged them to give, and described how he wanted the money to be collected (see 1 Cor. 16:1–4). He ensured accountability by sending the money to Jerusalem by authorized representatives (2 Cor. 8:16–24).
>> Recent financial scandals involving several high-profile churches can often be traced to irresponsible financial practices. A biblical approach to giving includes generosity as well as accountability. The church should take pains “to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of man” (v. 20).
Lord God, we confess that everything we own belongs to You, and it is right to submit our finances and resources to You. Teach us the joy of giving and grant us discernment as we choose whom to support.