God wants His people to have generous attitudes. He doesn’t want them to be ”pressed men’ in the realm of giving. He ”loves a cheerful giver” (7). He desires that our giving should be the overflow of something good happening in our hearts (see 8:16).
”For the Macedonian Christians, giving was not a chore but a challenge, not a burden but a blessing. Giving was not something to be avoided but a privilege to be desired.” George Sweeting.
Paul’s handling of the Corinthians on this subject of the offering is a fine example of pastoral tact and sensitivity:
- He reminds them of what they had promised. Paul knew they’d said it, and they knew they’d said it. Paul didn’t threaten, but he knew how to apply the right amount of pressure by letting them know he hadn’t forgotten their words, and that he had every confidence in them as people of their word!
- He tells them he has told others about their commitment to give (and paints well a picture of what it will feel like if they don’t do so. They must have felt their cheeks beginning to redden even as they heard Paul’s apostolic words. They could indeed imagine how embarrassing it would be, especially if their failure to deliver came out in front of the Macedonians, who were famous for their giving: 8:1-5)
- His words and actions demonstrated an expectation that they would make good on their promise, and not grudgingly so. They would know that they had effectively tied themselves by their earlier promise, and they would not be allowed to undo this particular ‘knot’.
- He was sending the ‘finance team’ to them to help them prepare their contributions, so that when he arrived everything would be in order.
- But he was coming to them! They would have to face him.
It is not unreasonable for church leaders to have high expectations of those they lead, and to make those expectations clear.
Prayer: May my own heart increasingly reflect the generous heart of God, as you change me by your Spirit.