2 Corinthians 8:9 -“For you know the grace of our Lord Yeshua Messiah, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.”
In one of the most protracted sections of the Bible on provision for others, the apostle Paul conveys the importance of the Corinthian congregation’s participation in assisting the poorer congregations in the Jerusalem area.
In his commentary, Albert Barnes provides the historical backdrop that prompted Paul’s gentle prodding of their support.
“The occasion of this distress which made the collection for the saints of Judea necessary, was probably the famine which was predicted by Agabus, and which occurred in the time of Claudius Caesar, Acts 11:28. Barnabas was associated with Paul in conveying the contribution to Jerusalem, Acts 6:30. Paul was unwilling to do it unless they particularly desired it, and he seems to have insisted that some person should be associated with him…”
Essentially, Paul was trying to be faithful in garnering support for fellow believers who were suffering due to lack. Congregations in other areas of the world where Paul was ministering had more resources to provide, and Paul was attempting to help out those early congregations that had sprung up in Judea. They were worthy of this assistance, since they were among the earliest of congregations that had led to the growing faith of the missionary congregations of Asia and Greece.
Romans 15:25-27 – “But now, I say, I am going to Jerusalem, serving the saints. For it has been the good pleasure of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor among the saints who are at Jerusalem. Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if those among the nations have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things.”
Since the missionary congregations had benefited from the spiritual assistance of the Judean groups, Paul argues, the least they could do in return was to provide them assistance in their practical needs.
However, the motivation for doing so is contained in the work of Messiah. Paul writes “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that you through his poverty might become rich.” Yeshua’s example of enriching others at his own expense was the touchstone for all righteous behavior. Yeshua had modeled true servanthood that was to be copied and exhibited by his followers in all things.
As believers, we should be compassionate because we have received compassion; we should love because we have been loved; we should give freely because we have received freely. Our motivation for assisting others experiencing spiritual or practical needs should be a spontaneous reflex, not an obligation.
Paul prays for their anticipated generosity with words that we can still take to heart today.
2 Corinthians 9:10-11 – Now may he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, supply and multiply your seed for sowing, and increase the fruits of your righteousness, you being enriched in everything to all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.
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