2 cor 8:7-15 is a passage that has some disturbing implications. it reads, “But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
paul praises the corinthians for their faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness and love. that’s a pretty impressive list. but he slips one more in there — he wants them also to excel in the grace of (financial) giving. when is the last time you heard a message about tithing? it’s a taboo topic to say the least. paul goes on to explain why he believes they ought to excel in this grace of giving monetarily. first, he says that giving money is a test to see how sincere their faith is in comparison with others (whom I presume gave generously). comparing how much we give with someone else also seems very taboo.
then comes the reason — paul is asking them to give generously because Christ himself left everything, all his riches in heaven, to live as one who knew physical poverty so that the we have a chance of being rich. this is a play on words because Christ did not leave physical wealth on heaven to become physically poor so that we can become physically rich in Christ (though some in the prosperity movement may say this). but Christ did leave spiritual riches in heaven to become physically poor and the result is that some of us have a chance of being spiritually rich.
what is the link between spiritual riches and physical poverty? are we called to follow Christ’s example and sell everything and live like Mother Teresa? or should we strive for financial “equality,” as paul seems to indicate and those who have more money support others in your local church or other churches who have less financial means?