What does it say?
In chapter 5 Paul continues his emphasis on an eternal focus, using the figure of a tent to illustrate, pointing to love as our motivation and transformation as our new reality. Having led them through a wide range of conflicts and issues, Paul urges the Corinthians to a higher standard of living, purity, love and biblical holiness (2 Corinthians 6). Chapter 7 returns to their history of problems and the joy that Paul experiences seeing that they have responded correctly.
Chapters 8-9 deal with our need for generosity. Paul is asking for an offering for suffering believers in Jerusalem and Judea. Though living in affluent Corinth, the believers there have not yet followed through on their promises, and Paul uses the example of those in Macedonia who have begged to participate even though they live in a zone of poverty. Paul explains why believers should be generous people.
What does it mean?
God has promised that we will suffer as followers of Christ. Chapters 5-7 put our focus on what is eternal rather than on those things that are only temporary. Rather than focus on the particulars of our problems, Paul puts the emphasis on correct motivation by God’s love and on the correct objective of giving all glory to him.
The section on giving is greatly important, especially for those of us that live in an affluent society. Ironically, a generous spirit is often easier for those who have little than those who have abundance. The point Paul makes is essentially that God does not need our giving, but rather that we have a great need to be generous. Generosity is part of becoming Christ-like, because we serve a generous God.
How will I respond?
How does my life reflect God’s generosity? Am I faithful in giving to him through my local assembly? Am I faithful in following the leadership of his Spirit in giving to other worthy causes? What one thing can I do this week to allow God to mold me into a more generous person?