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THE SECOND EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 8 - Verse 12

Verse 12. For if there be first a willing mind. If there is a readiness, (proyumia,) a disposition to give; if the heart is in it, then the offering will be acceptable to God, whether you be able to give much or little. A willing mind is the first consideration. No donation, however large, can be acceptable where that does not exist; none, however small, can be otherwise than acceptable where that is found. This had relation, as used by Paul, to the duty of almsgiving; but the principle is as applicable to everything in the way of duty. A willing mind is the first and main thing. It is that which God chiefly desires, and that without which everything else will be offensive, hypocritical, and vain. See Barnes "2 Co 9:7".

 

It is accepted. Doddridge, Rosenmuller, Macknight, and some others apply this to the person, and render it, "he is accepted;" but the more usual, and the more natural interpretation, is to apply it to the gift—it is accepted. God will approve of it, and will receive it favourably.

According to that a man hath, etc. He is not required to give what he has not. His obligation is proportioned to his ability. His offering is acceptable to God according to the largeness and willingness of his heart, and not according to the narrowness of his fortune.—Locke. If the means are small, if the individual is poor, and if the gift shall be therefore small in amount, yet it may be proof of a larger heart, and of more true love to God and his cause, than when a much more ample benefaction is made by one in better circumstances. This sentiment the Saviour expressly stated and defended in the case of the poor widow, Mr 12:42-44; Lu 21:1-4. She who had cast in her two mites into the treasury, had put in more than all which the rich men-had contributed, for they had given of their abundance, but she had cast in all that she had, even all her living. The great and obviously just and equal principle here stated, was originally applied by Paul to the duty of giving alms. But it is equally true and just as applied to all the duties which we owe to God. He demands

(1.) a willing mind, a heart disposed to yield obedience. He claims that our service should be voluntary and sincere, and that we should make an unreserved consecration of what we have.

(2.) He demands only what we have power to render. He requires a service strictly according to our ability, and to be measured by that. He demands no more than our powers are fitted to produce; no more than we are able to render. Our obligations in all cases are limited by our ability. This is obviously the rule of equity; and this is all that is anywhere demanded in the Bible, and this is everywhere demanded. Thus our love to Him is to be in proportion to our ability, and not to be graduated by the ability of angels or other beings. "And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with ALL THY heart, and with all THY soul, and with all THY mind, and with all THY strength," Mr 12:30. Here the obligation is limited by the ability, and the love is to be commensurate with the ability. So of repentance, faith, and of obedience in any form. None but a tyrant ever demands more than can be rendered; and to demand more is the appropriate description of a tyrant, and cannot appertain to the ever-blessed God.

(3.) If there is any service rendered to God, according to the ability, it is accepted of him. It may not be as much or as valuable as may be rendered by beings of higher powers; it may not be as much as we would desire to render, but it is all that God demands, and is acceptable to him. The poor widow was not able to give as much as the rich man; but her offering was equally acceptable, and might be more valuable, for it would be accompanied with her prayers. The service which we can render to God may not be equal to that which the angels render; but it may be equally appropriate to our condition and our powers, and may be equally acceptable to God. God may be as well pleased with the sighings of penitence, as the praises of angels; with the offerings of a broken and a contrite heart, as with the loud hallelujahs of unfallen beings in heaven.

{b} "if there be first" Lu 21:3

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