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8. Generosity Encouraged

Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. 6Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. 7Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. 8I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. 9For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. 10And herein I give my advice: for this is expedient for you, who have begun before, not only to do, but also to be forward a year ago. 11Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. 12For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. 13For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: 14But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: 15As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. 16But thanks be to God, which put the same earnest care into the heart of Titus for you. 17For indeed he accepted the exhortation; but being more forward, of his own accord he went unto you. 18And we have sent with him the brother, whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches; 19And not that only, but who was also chosen of the churches to travel with us with this grace, which is administered by us to the glory of the same Lord, and declaration of your ready mind: 20Avoiding this, that no man should blame us in this abundance which is administered by us: 21Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men. 22And we have sent with them our brother, whom we have oftentimes proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, upon the great confidence which I have in you. 23Whether any do enquire of Titus, he is my partner and fellowhelper concerning you: or our brethren be enquired of, they are the messengers of the churches, and the glory of Christ. 24Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf.

21. Providing things honest I am of opinion, that there were not wanting, even among the Corinthians, some who would have proceeded so far as to revile, if occasion had been allowed them. Hence he wished them to know the state of matters, that he might shut the mouths of all everywhere. Accordingly he declares, that he is not merely concerned to have a good conscience in the sight of God, but also to have a good character among men. At the same time, there can be no doubt, that he designed to instruct the Corinthians, as well as all others, by his example, that, in doing what is right, the opinion of men is not to be disregarded. The first thing, 698698     “Le premier et le principal;” — “The first and the chief thing.” it is true, is that the person take care, that he be a good man. This is secured, not by mere outward actions, but by an upright conscience. The next thing is, that the persons, with whom you are conversant, recognize you as such.

Here, however, the object in view must be looked to. Nothing, assuredly, is worse than ambition, which vitiates the best things in the world, disfigures, I say, the most graceful, and makes sacrifices of the sweetest smell have an offensive odor before the Lord. Hence this passage is slippery, so that care must be taken 699699     “Ainsi c’est yci vn passage glissant; et pourtant il faut que chacun aduise a soy;” — “Thus there is here a slippery passage; and hence every one must take heed to himself.” lest one should pretend to be desirous, in common with Paul, of a good reputation, and yet be very far from having Paul’s disposition, for he provided things honest in the sight of men, that no one might be stumbled by his example, but that, on the contrary, all might be edified. Hence we must, if we would desire to be like him, take care that we be not on our own account desirous of a good name. “He that is regardless of fame,” says Augustine, “is cruel, because it is not less necessary before our neighbor, than a good conscience is before God.” This is true, provided you consult the welfare of your brethren with a view to the glory of God, and in the mean time are prepared to bear reproaches and ignominy in place of commendation, if the Lord should see it meet. Let a Christian man, however, always take care to frame his life with a view to the edification of his neighbors, and diligently take heed, that the ministers of Satan shall have no pretext for reviling, to the dishonor of God and the offense of the good.


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