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Help for God’s People in Judea

And now, brothers and sisters, we want to tell you what God’s grace has done in the churches in Macedonia. These believers have been tested by great troubles, and they are very poor. But their great joy caused them to be very generous in their giving. I can tell you that they gave as much as they were able and even more than they could afford. No one told them to do this. It was their idea. But they asked us again and again—they begged us to let them share in this service for God’s people. And they gave in a way that we did not expect: They gave themselves to the Lord and to us before they gave their money. This is what God wants.

So we asked Titus to help you finish this special work of giving. He is the one who started this work. You are rich in everything—in faith, in speaking ability, in knowledge, in the willingness to help, and in the love you learned from us. So now we want you to be rich in this work of giving too.

I am not ordering you to give, but I want to see how real your love is by comparing you with others who have been so ready and willing to help. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that he gave up his heavenly riches for you. He gave up everything so that you could be richly blessed.

10 This is what I think you should do: Last year you were the first to want to give, and you were the first who gave. 11 So now finish the work you started. Then your “doing” will be equal to your “wanting to do.” Give from what you have. 12 If you want to give, your gift will be accepted. Your gift will be judged by what you have, not by what you don’t have. 13 We don’t want you to have troubles while others are comforted. We want everything to be equal. 14 At this time you have plenty and can provide what they need. Then later, when they have plenty, they can provide what you need. Then everyone will have an equal share. 15 As the Scriptures say,

“Those who gathered much did not have too much,
    and those who gathered little did not have too little.” (A)

Titus and His Companions

16 I thank God because he gave Titus the same love for you that I have. 17 Titus agreed to do what we asked. In fact, he himself wanted very much to come see you. 18 We are sending with Titus the brother who is praised by all the churches. He is praised because of his service to the Good News. 19 Also, he was chosen by the churches to go with us when we carry this gift. We are doing this service to bring honor[a] to the Lord and to show that we really want to help.

20 We are being careful so that no one will criticize us about the way we are caring for this large gift. 21 We are trying to do what is right. We want to do what the Lord accepts as right and also what people think is right.

22 Also, we are sending with them our brother who is always ready to help. He has proved this to us in many ways. And he wants to help even more now because he has much faith in you.

23 Now about Titus—he is my partner. He is working together with me to help you. And about the other brothers—they are sent from the churches, and they bring honor to Christ. 24 So show these men that you really have love. Show them why we are proud of you. Then all the churches can see it.

Your Giving Is a Blessing

I really don’t need to write to you about this help for God’s people. I know that you want to help. I have been bragging about you to the people in Macedonia. I told them that you people in Achaia have been ready to give since last year. And your desire to give has made most of the people here ready to give also. But I am sending these brothers to you. I don’t want our bragging about you in this to be for nothing. I want you to be ready just as I said you would be. If any of those from Macedonia come with me, and they find that you are not ready, we will be ashamed. We will be ashamed that we were so sure of you. And you will be ashamed too! So I thought that I should ask these brothers to come there before we do. They will help in getting together the generous gift you promised. Then it will be ready when we come, and it will be seen as a blessing you are giving, not as something you were forced to do.

Remember this: The one who plants few seeds will have a small harvest. But the one who plants a lot will have a big harvest. Each one of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give. You should not give if it makes you unhappy or if you feel forced to give. God loves those who are happy to give. And God can give you more blessings than you need, and you will always have plenty of everything. You will have enough to give to every good work. As the Scriptures say,

“He gives generously to the poor;
    his goodness will continue forever.” (B)

10 God is the one who gives seed to those who plant, and he gives bread for food. And God will give you spiritual seed and make that seed grow. He will produce a great harvest from your goodness. 11 God will make you rich in every way so that you can always give freely. And your giving through us will make people give thanks to God.

12 The service you are offering helps God’s people with their needs, but that is not all it does. It is also bringing more and more thanks to God. 13 This service is a proof of your faith, and people will praise God because of it. They will praise God that you freely share what you have with them and with all people. They will praise him to see you following the Good News about Christ that you openly accepted. They will praise God because you freely share with them and with all people. 14 And when they pray, they will wish they could be with you. They will feel this way because of the great grace that God gave you. 15 Thanks be to God for his gift that is too wonderful to describe.

Footnotes

  1. 2 Corinthians 8:19 honor Or “glory.” See “glory” in the Word List.

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