8:8 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.
10 And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; 11 but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. 12 For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.
13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; 14 but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. 15 As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
I find this section both humbling and encouraging. Humbling because I have been where Corinth is and encouraging because I'm not alone in my good intentions. As you can see it's been a year since Corinth agreed to support others in need but in that year nothing has been done. The others churches in Macedonia have been doing what they can while Corinth has done nothing. Notice that Paul doesn't call this giving a commandment. He calls it a grace. Choosing to give and following through is an evidence of growth in Christ like character. It's an area of growth where Corinth is struggling.
Paul makes a passing reference to an Old Testament story. The story is found in Exodus 16. The book of Haggai deals with the exact same principle. The Bible teaches that hoarding does not lead to abundance and giving does not lead to a lack. In fact nature teaches that giving leads to abundance. Why are dandelions so successful? Because they are so good at giving their seeds away and they are well rooted.
A well rooted Christian knows what it is to give. It is life and joy and a privilege that leads to abundance for all. It has been said that in this world there are givers and takers and we must decide which we will be. My favourite author describes it as consumers and producers. Jesus lived to give. He gave Himself continually. When John the Baptist died the Bible said Jesus tried to take some down time but He saw people in need and had compassion on them and went back to "work". He didn't have to. It wasn't a commandment. It just demonstrated the grace that filled His character. The grace of self-sacrificing love.
Paul is encouraging, reminding, and challenging the believers in Corinth to consider Jesus and develop the grace of giving. He who had everything left it all behind to rescue us. Will we do less? Look around for opportunities to practice the grace of giving. You will experience no lack.
Don't be like the grandpa who took his grandson to church. When the boy came home he said to his mother "Grandpa sure can't handle much pain."
"What makes you say that? Is grandpa ok?" asked his mother.
"Oh I think so but the preacher asked everyone to give until it hurt. Grandpa only gave a dollar."