See that you excel in this act of grace also.
Giving is an essential component of the Christian life. God, in whose image we are made, is the supreme Giver. “For God so loved the world that he gave…(John 3:16a). We do not possess the capacity to fully comprehend the breadth and depth of God’s generosity toward us. But because of the perfections of his Triune nature, we are able to understand God’s self-giving as 1) God giving himself to us, 2) The Father sending the Son for us, and 3) The Father and the Son sending the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. How incomprehensible is God’s loving generosity toward his people!
It makes sense, therefore, that God’s people, those who claim to know his saving grace, would be shaped by his generosity. Early in their history, God drew his people into the pattern of his generosity by commanding various tithes and additional offerings. He also gave commands for those who farmed to leave portions of their crops available for the poor. God also prescribed the Year of Jubilee in which all debts were forgiven. And though the specific tithes and offerings and various other civil laws given under the Covenant with Moses are no longer required, the generosity they were intended to produce should flourish in the lives of Christians.
To the Corinthian church, the Apostle Paul refused to command they give a specific amount of money for the relief of the Jerusalem church. Indeed, there are no such commands in the New Testament. However, the absence of commands for Christians to give specific amounts to the Lord’s work must not be understood as apathy. On the contrary, the themes of money, possessions, and generosity are of great concern in the New Testament. But as Paul helps us understand in 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9, Christians are to give not because they are coerced to do so but out of love for Christ and a desire to serve their neighbor.
Certainly, the Apostle is not shy to call his readers to give (8:7, 11). But it is significant that he refers to the collection for the Jerusalem church as “this act of grace.” Christians’ generosity cannot be an act of the law for the law cannot change the heart. The sort of generosity that the God who gives desires from his sons and daughters is a generosity which springs from the deep reservoir of grace.