they pleaded for the privilege

Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.

Macedonia was a province alive with economic prosperity in Paul’s time.

“… Macedonia seems on the whole to have been a prosperous province, with flourishing agriculture and mining and lumber industries.” (Barrett, p.219)

Yet the the churches Paul had founded in Macedonia – Philippi, Thessalonica and Beroea – were “… in the midst of a very severe trial … and … extreme poverty” (vs.2).

“Poverty was probably to a great extent a Christian phenomenon and the result of persecution … (Barrett; p.219)

Still, when they learned Paul was collecting money to give to the poverty-stricken Christians in Jerusalem (cf. Rom.15:26; 2 Cor.1:16; 2:13; 7:5; 11:9; Phil.4:15; 1 Thes.1:7-8; 4:10), they “welled up in rich generosity” and “overflowing joy” at the “grace that God had given” them for an opportunity (“privilege”) to “share in this service to the Lord’s people.” (vs.4) Indeed, they “went beyond their ability” (vs.3) to give and “urgently pleaded” with Paul (vs.4) for him to allow them to do so.

Let me make sure I have this straight – the preacher was unable to hold back the giving of extremely poor churches (Beroa, Philippi and Thessalonica) to another church (Jerusalem), hundreds of miles away, that was full of people unknown to them who were also broke. And then, having witnessed this sort of begging for the privilege to give to others in need by those who were also in need, the preacher mentions this to happening to a well-to-do church (Corinth) and tells them he wants to see them do likewise. His point being something like “If the desperately poor give like this, how then ought you to give?”

Good question.

Father God, I want a heart that begs to give. I want a heart that loves those it doesn’t know and is willing to love them sacrificially. I want to live a life that is open-minded, open-hearted, open-handed to all. Give me this grace, I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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