Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.”
(2 Corinthians 8:10-15)
The Corinthian church had money, and apparently they had planned to collect money for the Jerusalem church a year previously (see also 2 Corinthians 9:2). Paul challenges them to act on their plans. Four principles of giving emerge here: (1) your willingness to give cheerfully is more important than the amount you give; (2) you should strive to fulfill your financial commitments; (3) if you give to others in need, they will, in turn, help you when you are in need; (4) you should give as a response to Christ’s mercy, not for anything you can get out of it.
How do you decide how much to give? What about differences in the financial resources Christians have? Paul gives the Corinthian church several principles to follow: (1) each person should follow through on previous promises (2 Corinthians 8:10-11; 9:3); (2) each person should give as much as he or she is able (2 Corinthians 8:12; 9:6); (3) each person must make up his or her own mind how much to give (2 Corinthians 9:7); and (4) each person should give in proportion to what God has given him or her (2 Corinthians 9:10).
God gives to us so that we can give to others, not out of guilt or obligation, but out of love and compassion. What will you give?