2018-08-08 / Religion

True benevolence is the result of inner change

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

2 Corinthians 8, 9

The divine design for financing the “work of the ministry” is “internal participation.” The members of many religious organizations seem to have forgotten the divine principle. The early church applied the eternal design and found that the plan really worked.

The early believers in Jesus Christ of Nazareth were not readily accepted by the religious leaders of the Jewish nation. Not only were these people met with the physical problems that plagued the whole area, but they were, further, subjected to resistance from the economic system.

When a person would become known as one of the “people of the/that way,” they would, often, lose their jobs, or their business would be boycotted. This extra financial burden would/did take its toll on families of true believers. This problem was made known to believers in other areas of the Roman Empire. He, Apostle Paul, began an effort to gather finances to help ease this pain of the group in Jerusalem.

In his first letter to the church of Corinth, Paul made direct reference to the “offering” for these suffering believers. “Now concerning the collection (gathering) for the saints, as I have given order (as an appointment, charge) to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.” 1 Corinthians 16:1.

The orderliness of this “collection” is important. “Upon the first day of the week let every one (i.e., each) of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.” 1 Corinthians 16:2.

The apostle expressed confidence in the carrying out of this request” - And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality (gift; bounty) unto Jerusalem.” 1 Corinthians 16:3.

Time has a way of dimming the fervor of the moment. The apostle was aware of this human trait. He wrote a second letter to the church in the prosperous city of Corinth. In the meantime, Paul had visited the churches in the area of Macedonia.

This area of the country of Greece had met with both financial and political problems. Yet, these impoverished believers accepted responsibility for helping the believers in Jerusalem.

Paul uses these people as examples of the faithfulness of a committed heart. He wrote, “I rejoice therefore that I have confidence in you in all things.” 2 Corinthians 7:16.

The apostle expressed his confidence in a direct manner, “Moreover, brethren, we do to wit (exercise courage to make known) of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality (sincerity). For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing (of one’s own accord) of themselves; Praying (beseeching) us with much entreaty (appeal) that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering (service) to the saints.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-4.

From this portion and others, it seems as if the Macedonian believers we really “begging” Paul to receive their gift. Yes, the apostle knew the individual financial struggles of the members of that congregation.

He must have attempted to refuse their offering — knowing their personal need. Yet, these believers had developed such a “love for the brethren,” that no sacrifice would seem too great.

The apostle, further, explained to the Corinthians. “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first (first in order) gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will (desire) of God.” 2 Corinthians 8:5.

The apostle turned his thoughts to the divine gift that has been given to all mankind the Lord Jesus Christ. As Paul reflected on all of the glories of heaven the home of the son of God that were abandoned by our Lord, the “gifts” that we would give for the spreading of the gospel pales in comparison. He reminded those first readers and us.

“For I know the grace (gift) of our lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye might through his poverty (to become destitute) might be rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9.

The former Pharisee reminded these believers, “And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward (willing) a year ago.

Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will (of being willing), so there may be a performance (completeness) also out of that which he have (possess).” 2 Corinthians 8:10, 11. There is a principle that has been established for all giving. “For if (Note: conditional) there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man (he) hath (possesses), and not according to that he hath not.” 2 Corinthians 8:12.

As the apostle continued his exhortation, he returned to the faithfulness of the Macedonians. 2 Corinthians 9:1, 2. He addressed the present congregation in a direct manner. “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he that soweth bountifully shall reap bountifully.

Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly (regret), or of necessity (what must need be): for God loveth a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9: 6, 7.

The thought of “giving to receive” is not taught in scripture. However, there are spiritual rewards for those who give from a willing heart.

The “return” is not always in the “present financial currency,” but can come in many forms spiritual blessings; peace of mind, family unity; comfort in sorrow, etc. Paul wrote, “And God is able (has the power) to make all grace abound toward you; that ye always having all sufficiency (enough) in all things may abound in every good work.

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth (to work out) through us thanksgiving into God.” 2 Corinthians 9: 8, 11.

It is important to remember that benevolence is not the “cause” of personal salvation from the eternal consequences of sin, but the result of the inner change brought about by the grace of God. May we all be faithful in our service to the King of kings, and Lord of lords!

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@ yahoo. c om

Return to top