Words of Faith 11-13-17
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2017
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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2 Corinthians 8
 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality.  At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality,  as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
So why take an offering for another church? Didn't the Jerusalem church have people and money and income to care for themselves?
History tells us that in the first century many Jewish men moved to Jerusalem in their late years so as to die and be buried in the place where Messiah would return. As a result, Jerusalem had an abundance of needy widows. Caring for them was one of the first urban ministries of the Christian church. When a famine hit the area during the time of Paul things were even worse and the church responded with a ministry of mercy.
Because of this situation the Spirit led Paul to call upon the missionary churches to share from their plenty in order to meet these needs. Paul worked in some poorer areas such as Macedonia and in some wealthier areas such as Corinth. He offered these believers the opportunity to reach out in mercy and respond to the need in Jerusalem.
But Paul made it clear that it was never God's intention that one group of believers should be burdened or hard pressed financially while another is relieved or "at ease.” The purpose of offerings in the church is not to burden one person or group so as to "relax" another.
When Paul spoke of equality, he was not suggesting that everyone should give the same amount. Paul explained that in the economy of God there will be times of need and times of plenty. God will supply a need through another believer who has plenty for a time. The Corinthians had plenty but there would be times when they would be in need. This is part of what the fellowship of the church is about.
Paul quoted from Exodus to illustrate this divine pattern. In the desert, God supplied manna as food for the Israelites. Some gathered more and some less. "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." God gave food according to their needs (Ex. 16:16-18).
In the early church there was a mutual sharing in order to meet needs-- "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyone as he had need" (Acts 2:44-45). This was not government imposed socialism; it was a Spirit inspired generosity. Believers had come to see that anything they had belonged to God and if they had plenty it was for the purpose of helping others.
What do we apply from this?
Paul will give us more guidance in the next chapters regarding giving. But as a foundation, it is important to understand that giving in the church is never meant to be a burden for one so as to create ease or laxity for another. If a church or area is blessed with plenty, there should be a concern to share with a church or area that is struggling. If a person or family is blessed with plenty, there should be sharing with families that are struggling.
Paul was very clear that the point of Christian stewardship is never to pinch or "hard-press" one in order to completely remove responsibility from another. But it is vital that we realize that when we are blessed with plenty there is a divine reason for this and we should pursue that purpose.
Lord God, help me to see that every blessing is from Your hands. Help me to see the purpose You have for all that You entrust to me. Help me to see the joy and wonder of how You supply the needs of others through me and how you supply my needs through others. In Jesus' Name.