on 2-corinthians 8 :24
Wherefore show ye to them, and before the Churches, etc. - Seeing they are persons every way worthy in themselves, and coming to you on such an important occasion, and so highly recommended, receive them affectionately; and let them thus see that the very high character I have given of you is not exaggerated, and that you are as ready in every work of charity as I have stated you to be. Act in this for your honor.
1. The whole of this chapter and the following is occupied in exciting the richer followers of Christ to be liberal to the poorer; the obligation of each to be so, the reasons on which that obligation is founded, the arguments to enforce the obligation from those reasons, are all clearly stated, and most dexterously and forcibly managed. These two chapters afford a perfect model for a Christian minister who is pleading the cause of the poor.
2. In the management of charities a man ought carefully to avoid the least suspicion of avarice, self-interest, and unfaithfulness. How few persons are entirely free from the upbraidings of their own consciences in the matter of alms! But who will be able to hear the upbraidings of Christ at the time of death and judgment? No man can waste without injustice, or neglect without sin, those things of which he is only the dispenser and steward.
3. God has not settled an equality among men by their birth to the end that this equality might be the work of his grace. He has put the temporal portion of the poor into the hands of the rich, and the spiritual portion of the rich into the hands of the poor, on purpose to keep up a good understanding betwixt the members of the same body by a mutual dependence on one another. He who withholds the part belonging to the poor steals more from himself than from them. Let every one answer this admirable design of God, and labor to re-establish equality: the poor, in praying much for the rich; and the rich, in giving much to the poor. See Quesnel.
on 2-corinthians 8 :24
Wherefore show ye to them ... - By a liberal contribution in the cause in which they are engaged and for which they have come among you now, furnish the evidence that you love me and the Christian cause, and show that I have not boasted of you in vain.
The proof of your love - Your love to me, to God, to the cause of religion; see the note on 2 Corinthians 8:8.
And of our boasting ... - My boasting that you would give liberally to the object; see the note, 2 Corinthians 7:14. Let it now be seen that my boasting was well founded, and that I properly understood your character, and your readiness to contribute to the objects of Christian benevolence.
1. Let us bear in mind that a disposition to be liberal proceeds only from God, 2 Corinthians 8:1. The human heart is by nature selfish, and indisposed to benevolence. It is only by the grace of God that people are excited to liberality; and we should therefore pray for this as well as for all other graces. We should beseech God to remove selfishness from our minds; to dispose us to feel as we should feel for the needs of others, and to incline us to give just what we ought to give to relieve them in trouble, and to promote their temporal and eternal welfare.
2. It is an inestimable blessing when God gives a spirit of liberality to the church, 2 Corinthians 8:1. It should be regarded as a proof of his special favor; and as an evidence of the prevalence of the principles of true religion.
3. People are often most liberal when in circumstances of distress, perplexity, and affliction, 2 Corinthians 8:2. Prosperity often freezes the heart, but adversity opens it. Success in life often closes the hand of benevolence, but adversity opens it. We are taught to feel for the sufferings of others by suffering ourselves; and in the school of adversity we learn invaluable lessons of benevolence which we should never acquire in prosperity. If you lack the tear of sympathy: if you want aid in a good cause, go to a man in affliction, and his heart is open. And hence, it is that God often suffers his people to pass through trials in order that they may possess the spirit of large and active benevolence.
4. If Christians desire to be generous, they must first devote themselves to God, 2 Corinthians 8:5. If this is not done they will have no heart to give, and they will not give. They will have a thousand excuses ready, and there will be no ground of appeal which we can make to them. True liberality is always based on the fact that we have given ourselves wholly to God.
5. When Christians have honestly devoted themselves to God, it will be easy to contribute liberally to the cause of benevolence, 2 Corinthians 8:5. They will find something to give; or if they have nothing now they will labor and deny themselves in order that they may have something to give. If every professed Christian on earth had honestly given himself to God, and should act in accordance with this, the channels of benevolence Would never be dry.
6. We should compare ourselves in the matter of benevolence with the churches here referred to, 2 Corinthians 8:3. They were poor; they were in deep affliction, and yet they contributed all in their power, and beyond their power. Do we do this? Do we give according to our ability? Do we deny ourselves of one comfort? withhold one gratification? curtail one expense which fashion demands, in order that we may have the means of doing good? O! if every Christian would give according to his ability to the sacred cause of charity, how soon would the means be ample to place the Bible in every family on the globe, to preach the gospel in every country, and to maintain all the institutions which the cause of humanity needs in this and in other lands.
7. The Christian character is incomplete unless there is a spirit of large and liberal beneficence, 2 Corinthians 8:7. This is indispensable to the proper symmetry of the Christian graces, and this should be cultivated in order to give beauty and completeness to the whole. Yet it cannot be denied that there are true Christians where this is lacking. There are those who give every other evidence of piety; who are people of prayer, and who evince humility, and who are submissive in trials, and whose conversation is that of Christians, who are yet sadly deficient in this virtue. Either by an original closeness of disposition, or by a defect of education, or by lack of information in regard to the objects of Christian benevolence, they are most stinted in their benefactions, and often excite the amazement of others that they give so little to the cause of benevolence. Such persons should be entreated to carry out their Christian character to completion. As they abound in other things, they should abound in this grace also. They are depriving themselves of much comfort, and are bringing much injury on the cause of the Redeemer while they refuse to sustain the great objects of Christian charity. No Christian character is symmetrical or complete unless it is crowned with the spirit of large and comprehensive benevolence toward every object that tends to promote the temporal and eternal welfare of man.
8. The sincerity of our love should be tested, and will be, by our readiness to deny ourselves to do good to others, 2 Corinthians 8:8. The love of the Lord Jesus was tested in that way; and there can be no true love to God or man where there is not a readiness to contribute of our means for the welfare of others. If we love the Redeemer. we shall devote all to his service; if we love our fellow-men we shall evince our "sincerity" by being willing to part with our earthly substance to alleviate their woes, enlighten their ignorance, and save their souls.
9. Let us imitate the example of the Lord Jesus, 2 Corinthians 8:9. He was rich, yet he became poor; and, o how poor! Let the rich learn to copy his example, and be willing to part with their abundant and superfluous wealth in order that they may relieve and benefit others. That man is most happy as well as most useful, who most resembles the Redeemer; that man will be most happy who stoops from the highest earthly elevation to the lowest condition that he may minister to the welfare of others.
10. Charity should be voluntary, 2 Corinthians 8:12. It should be the free and spontaneous offering of the heart; and the first promptings of the heart, before the pleadings of avarice come in, and the heart grows cold by the influence of returning covetousness, are likely to be the most correct.
on 2-corinthians 8 :24
8:24 Before the churches - Present by their messengers.