In this chapter, Paul returns to one of the main issues that caused the recent controversies in Corinth; the gift of financial aid to the church in Jerusalem. As we have already seen, his accusers in Corinth made a lot of this action, apparently claiming that Paul was involved in something less than honest, yet Paul and the Corinthians had now moved beyond these attacks, had dealt with the accusers, and reconciled.
What is really interesting here, is that Paul, full of optimism and joy, is giving the Corinthians an opportunity to demonstrate their rejection of those accusers, and their commitment to Christ and His people by giving their money for the relief of the Jerusalem church.
Was Paul pushing his luck when he wrote this? Remember, he didn’t know what the response would be…
Over the years, I’ve listened to many an annual sermon about tithing come from these verses, and I’ve often wondered if that was the best application of the text. If I’m honest, I have to say that I still wonder about that.
Yet putting our love into action might well mean that from time-to-time we must part with our cash. No, I don’t mean “tithing”. After all, tithing is part of the Old Testament Law that is “obsolete and useless” according to the author of Hebrews. What I mean is that so many of us say that Christ is first in our lives, that He is our center and our rock, and then refuse to give our earthly treasure to His cause. Is it just me, or is there perhaps the slightest bit of hypocrisy at work there…?
I’ll let you be the judge of that, and I’ll just say that Paul is clearly challenging the Corinthians to put their money where their mouths are.
As for us, I think it is safe to say that we should be good stewards of or material resources, wasting not. I think it is important for us to avoid being a burden upon others if it is at all possible. At the same time, it is also important that we be quick to give to those who have a real need, for how can we say that we love our brother and sister, all the while refusing a legitimate need? No, we shouldn’t become enablers to enable people to waste their resources and very often it is hard to be sure where the need actually comes from.
Yet as the rich man said, “I may have lost millions in business, but I never lost a cent that I gave away.”