2 Corinthians 8 is the popular biblical passage on “grace giving.” Paul instructs the Corinthians that as they excel in other areas, they are to excel also in this act of grace–namely giving.
Recently, I was struck by the scriptural example Paul holds out for them regarding their giving. He presents to them the words spoken regarding the Israelites gathering manna in the wilderness. Those who gathered much had nothing left over.
They were to keep nothing for themselves beyond what they needed for today. They were to trust the Lord for his provision for tomorrow.
How is excellent, gracious giving defined? According to the example Paul gives us in 2 Corinthinans 8, excellent giving means I will give according to my means and beyond my means (vs 3), I will beg earnestly to participate (vs 4), I will give myself first to the Lord (vs 5), and if I gather more than I need to live today, I will give to the one in need so that he has no lack (vs 15).
Paul states this “not as a command”, but urges them to prove their love (for Christ) is genuine through their excellent giving. The purpose of their excellent giving (and ours) is to provide relief –food, clean water, medical care, Bibles, etc– to God’s people and to anyone else in need. Today, one in seven, or over 260 million Christians, live in absolute poverty.*
For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.” 2 Cor 8:13-15
*Exploring World Mission, pg 54