The apostle Paul begins this chapter by talking about the Macedonian offering for the poor in Jerusalem. The Macedonian churches of Philippi and Thessalonica have eagerly responded to the invitation to share financial resources. They want to set out for Jerusalem with offering in hand. The Corinthians, however, after their initial eagerness to participate, have not come forward with a commitment.
Paul encourages the Corinthians by reinforcing their stellar qualities, noting their excellence “in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness.” Paul reminds them of their spiritual “debt” to the saints in Jerusalem. Their love and generosity stems—not as an obligation—from Jesus himself becoming poor for their sakes. Their giving is a matter of grace. Paul recalls the Corinthians’ initial desire to participate in the offering and rather than commanding they give, suggests they give out of love.
God rejoices in a grateful and willing heart; in this particular case, Paul opens the eyes of these Christians with regard to their coldness in rejecting the needs of others. He points out that Christ, being rich, gave up everything for love—and that through Christ’s sacrifice, we become spiritually rich. Paul does not ask for a specific amount—only a generous donation from grateful hearts.
For the Corinthians and for all Christians, giving is more than a financial exercise. It is an act of love in response to Christ’s giving of self.
Great God, your love exceeds our understanding. In Christ we can enjoy the proof of greater love. Teach us to love, even as you first loved us, and awaken in us a grateful heart. Amen.
David is remembered in scripture as a mighty king but also as a great poet. Many of the Psalms are ascribed to him. In Second Samuel we find a poem, a song of lamentation over Saul and Jonathan. Saul was violently jealous of David, yet David still honored Saul as God’s anointed king. Jonathan was David’s best friend, and David bemoans Israel’s loss of these two leaders. The author of Psalm 130, although probably not David, appeals to God in David-like fashion. The Gospel reading takes us in a different direction, showing the power of a woman’s faith. In Second Corinthians, Paul deals with practical matters. The Corinthians had promised to send financial help to the believers in Jerusalem. Now that pledge needs to become a reality.
• Read 2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27. When have you acknowledged, upon his or her death, the value of a person you deemed an enemy?
• Read Psalm 130. When have you cried out to God from the depths of your despair? What was God’s response?
• Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-15. When have you lost enthusiasm for a project that had originally ignited your interest and best efforts? How did you rekindle that interest?
• Read Mark 5:21-43. What has been your experience with God’s plans and timetable?
Respond by posting a prayer.