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Now I want to tell you what God in his grace has done for the churches in Macedonia.

Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others. They gave not only what they could afford but far more; and I can testify that they did it because they wanted to and not because of nagging on my part. They begged us to take the money so they could share in the joy of helping the Christians in Jerusalem. Best of all, they went beyond our highest hopes, for their first action was to dedicate themselves to the Lord and to us, for whatever directions God might give to them through us. They were so enthusiastic about it that we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to visit you and encourage you to complete your share in this ministry of giving. You people there are leaders in so many ways—you have so much faith, so many good preachers, so much learning, so much enthusiasm, so much love for us. Now I want you to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving.

I am not giving you an order; I am not saying you must do it, but others are eager for it. This is one way to prove that your love is real, that it goes beyond mere words.

You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus was: though he was so very rich, yet to help you he became so very poor, so that by being poor he could make you rich.

10 I want to suggest that you finish what you started to do a year ago, for you were not only the first to propose this idea, but the first to begin doing something about it. 11 Having started the ball rolling so enthusiastically, you should carry this project through to completion just as gladly, giving whatever you can out of whatever you have. Let your enthusiastic idea at the start be equalled by your realistic action now. 12 If you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t.

13 Of course, I don’t mean that those who receive your gifts should have an easy time of it at your expense, 14 but you should divide with them. Right now you have plenty and can help them; then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way, each will have as much as he needs. 15 Do you remember what the Scriptures say about this? “He that gathered much had nothing left over, and he that gathered little had enough.” So you also should share with those in need.

16 I am thankful to God that he has given Titus the same real concern for you that I have. 17 He is glad to follow my suggestion that he visit you again—but I think he would have come anyway, for he is very eager to see you! 18 I am sending another well-known brother with him, who is highly praised as a preacher of the Good News in all the churches. 19 In fact, this man was elected by the churches to travel with me to take the gift to Jerusalem. This will glorify the Lord and show our eagerness to help each other. 20 By traveling together we will guard against any suspicion, for we are anxious that no one should find fault with the way we are handling this large gift. 21 God knows we are honest, but I want everyone else to know it too. That is why we have made this arrangement.

22 And I am sending you still another brother, whom we know from experience to be an earnest Christian. He is especially interested as he looks forward to this trip because I have told him all about your eagerness to help.

23 If anyone asks who Titus is, say that he is my partner, my helper in helping you, and you can also say that the other two brothers represent the assemblies here and are splendid examples of those who belong to the Lord.

24 Please show your love for me to these men and do for them all that I have publicly boasted you would.

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