2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Many approach the subject of stewardship with long, drawn‑out apologies. I have never apologized for my leadership responsibility at this point. In fact, we do people an injustice if we do not lead in teaching biblical principles of stewardship.

Greed is one of the biggest obstacles to personal and corporate revival. When the back of greed is broken, the human spirit soars into regions of spiritual awakening. Ask a little lad with a little lunch. Ask a lovely lady with an alabaster box. Ask our Lord Jesus Himself.

In the 2 Corinthians 8, the apostle Paul talks about our stewardship. His emphasis is not on our giving by guilt—because we have to. Nor is his emphasis on giving with a grudge—because we ought to. But his emphasis is upon giving with grace —because we want to.

He even begins with grace in the first verse of 2 Corinthians 8. The Corinthian church was not giving to the Lord's work. When we are not spir­itual we are generally not generous. Paul encourages them by using the Macedonians as an example. The Macedonians had suffered greatly for the faith, and yet they gave so sacrificially for the Lord's work. They excelled in what Paul called "the graceof giving" (2 Corinthians 8:7).

As Paul wrote these words, the Jerusalem church was being scattered throughout the world. There was a depressed economy. However, the Greeks in Corinth were doing well financially. But they were not giving to the Lord's work as they should. Thus, the apostle writes and uses the Philippians, the Bereans, and the Thessalonicans as examples to them. Little did those Macedonians know that when they gave what they did, they would influence us 2,000 years later.

Now, there are some modern money myths from Corinth that need to be dispelled today. The Corinthians were living with these myths and seeking to justify their lack of giving to the Lord's work because of them. In so many ways the church of the Western world today is living with these same money myths.

Myth No. 1: Only people with money should give.

"...their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality" (2 Corinthians 8:2).

Some people say only people with money should give. Let Bob or Bill do it. He has the money. We often exclaim, "If I had their money, I would give; I would tithe." This notion that only people with money should give is just a myth, though.

Paul said that these people gave out of "a great trial and out of deep poverty." They gave out of what? Stock reserves? Certificates of deposit? Savings? No, out of "deep poverty" and "great trial." The Greek word translated "trial" in 2 Corinthians 8:2 is the same word that means "purging." The word picture is of a precious metal that is heated until the liquid impurities rise to the top and are scraped off. Pure metal is left, and when it is cool it's stronger than ever. Here were people who were being tested. The heat was being turned up on them. Yet out of this great trial, they gave to the Lord's work.

The apostle also says that they gave out of "deep poverty." The word means "rock bottom destitution." They had lost their jobs. But circumstances did not keep them from giving. The people in Macedonia did not buy into the myth that those in Corinth did, that only people with money should give.