8:1 Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 6 So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. 7 But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.
The grace of self-sacrificing generosity - do we possess it? Notice what the grace of God has produced in the Corinthian church already: faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, and love. Paul is asking for an encouraging a new manifestation of grace - that they would choose to share/give generously.
He continues to explains where this generosity should come from:
8 I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
Paul has shared that other churches throughout Macedonia have already discovered the grace of giving. Note that he is not commanding them to give. He is encouraging them to look to the example of Jesus. To give from obligation is not generous. That kind of giving will eventually produce bitterness. When the children of Israel were asked to donate materials to build the Sanctuary, God asked only to give from a willing heart. There was no forced giving. There were no guilt trips. There was no coercion.
To give unwillingly is no benefit to anyone. It is hurtful to the recipient and will only bring resentment to the giver. True giving is a byproduct of grace. It is another manifestation of what happens to the heart that is touched with the ever increasing scope of what Jesus did, is doing, and will do for us. If you have not yet received this grace of self-sacrificing generosity don't attempt to produce it. Instead look again at what Jesus has given for you. Heaven came down while all the comforts and glory of heaven remained behind. Born to poor parents, laid in a feed trough for a crib, His life was anything but affluent. Had He been honoured with the best this world has to offer it still would have been an immeasurable step down. Why did He do it? Love.
May the grace of giving for the benefit of helping others become a grace we receive in ever increasing measure.