Copr. 1998, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.  All Scripture references are to

the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984

International Bible Society,  unless otherwise noted. Quotations

from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes

the teacher uses a blackboard.

INTRODUCTION: This week our lesson is about giving.  Since this

not a natural impulse of the unconverted heart, let’s see what

lessons we can learn about giving.


     A. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1-4.  If you were
to summarize these
four verses in one word, what word would you

          1. These four
verses are about the Macedonian church
giving to the
poor among the saints in Jerusalem (see
Romans 15:26).
How does it make sense for Paul to start
out v.1 by saying
“we want you to know about the grace
that God has
GIVEN the Macedonian churches?”

a. I thought they were giving in Macedonia and not
getting! (Being generous towards the poor is a gift
from God.)

b. Do you have that gift?

c. How do you get it?

     B. In verse 2 Paul tells us that three factors
came together
to cause the Macedonians to give to the poor
saints in
Jerusalem.  What are those three factors?
(Write on
blackboard: 1. Severe trial; 2. overflowing
joy; and, 3.
extreme poverty.)

          1. If you were
a fund-raiser looking for potential
donors, how
many of these three factors would be on your
list? (“All
right, we want to raise a million dollars for
the school. 
Let’s ask those former students who are
severe trials in their lives and who have no
Is this what you would expect to hear? No!)

          2. Have you heard
the saying, “Charity begins at home?”
Assume your
family is “extremely poor” and suffering a
“severe trial.” 
Would you be giving to other poor

a. Is the saying “charity begins at home” contrary
to the Bible?

(1) How does Mark 7:10-13 fit into this

b. What do you think Paul means when he says (v.3)
“they gave as much as they were able?” (The giving
was proportional to their wealth.  They were not
judged on the absolute value of their gifts, but
rather on their ability to give.)

c. There is a general feeling (which I share) that
the local churches in North America are sending so
much money “up the chain of church administrative
layers” that the local church is being strangled
for funds.

(1) What, if anything, does the “Macedonian

example” teach us on this issue?

(2) How important is it that the Macedonians
were contributing to the poor saints as
opposed to administrative functions of the

(3) By saying that 10% of our income should be
sent “up the chain of church administrative
layers” are we suffocating or encouraging the
kind of generosity towards the poor
demonstrated by the Macedonians?

(4) If we were going to use a formula for
sending money to higher levels of the church,
would it make more sense for the local church
to “tithe” its total receipts to the higher
levels of the church instead of having each
member send up his entire tithe?

(a) Is this “tithe on tithe” to higher
church levels a Biblical principle? (See
Nehemiah 10:38 and Numbers 18:26.)

     C. The questions I have just been asking about
altering the
formula for what is “sent up” to “higher levels”
of the church
reveals a certain attitude. How does that
compare with the
attitude of the Macedonians towards giving?
(Verse 4 says that
they “urgently pleaded … for the privilege”
of giving!)

          1. If you question
the formula, does that mean you need
a new, more
“Macedonian-like” attitude?

          2. Or can you
be generous and questioning at the same

          3. Would it be
reasonable for the Macedonians to question
sending their
money to the poor in Jerusalem since they
were in “extreme

     D. Do you think the church members in Macedonia
knew the
members in Jerusalem? (Probably not.)

          1. Does this
make the generosity of the Macedonians more
or less remarkable?

     E. We need to look more closely at the attitude
of the
Macedonians, so let’s turn to that next.


     A. We agree that “severe trials” and “extreme
poverty” are not
the logical ingredients for generosity.
What about this third
factor that Paul mentions in 2 Cor. 8:2: “overflowing

          1. What kind
of joy do you think the Macedonians

          2. How was it
possible for them to experience it?

     B. How many of you would be happier if you
won the lottery?
What if some unknown relative gave you five
million dollars?
We talk about being “healthy, wealthy and
wise.” While being
wealthy might not be our main goal, it is
a rare person that
would not “enjoy” more money.

          1. Was the “overflowing
joy” of the Macedonians connected
to wealth?

     C. Read 2 Corinthians 8:5. Paul says the Macedonians
did not
“do as he expected.” What do you think he
expected? (He was
probably like us, we do not look for liberal
giving among
those in poverty.)

          1. So why did
the Macedonians give so generously? (Verse
5: “they gave
themselves first to the Lord.”)

a. Does this giving themselves first to the Lord
have anything to do with the “overflowing joy”
mentioned in v.1?

          2. Is a converted
heart at the bottom of generosity?

a. If so, why? (We realize that our Lord gave
everything for us.  How, then, can we be selfish
with others?)

          3. Notice the
sequence here. First, the Macedonians give
their hearts
to the Lord.  Then, they give themselves to
God’s leaders.
That leads to giving to Paul’s project to
help the poor
in Jerusalem.

a. Should we question whether our hearts are
really converted if we resist the funding formula
for higher levels of the church set by our church


     A. Read 2 Corinthians 8:6-8. Is a generous
heart in the same
league as “faith,” “spiritual knowledge” and
“love?” (Paul
puts them in the same category in v.7.)

          1. When we studied
1 Corinthians 13 we learned that if we
did not have
love, our Christian life was “nothing.” What
bearing does
our giving have on the issue of whether we

a. Does Paul teach in v.8 that the sincerity of our
love is tested by our generosity?

(1) Consider how you would do on that test?

          2. Notice in
v.8 that when it comes to giving, Paul wants
to compare the
Corinthians with others (most notably, the
Why does Paul suggest that we are to
compare ourselves
to other people rather than Jesus?

a. Should we compare our giving with that of others?

b. Does the extent of our giving show how much (or
little) we love?  If someone is in the same income
bracket as we are, and gives more money, we can
know they love more?

     B. Let’s read on. Read 2 Corinthians 8:9-12.
Why does Paul
mention Jesus in the context of giving money
to the poor?
(First, we see that Paul calls us to compare
ourselves with
our Lord who is our perfect Example. Second,
Jesus is indeed
a perfect example of generosity because He
gave up everything
for us.)

          1. Did Jesus
give us money?

          2. Although Paul
is talking specifically about money, how
important is
it that we are generous with our money as
opposed to say,
our time? (Money is just one part of the
picture of our
generosity.  When we consider our own
family we can
see that giving money to our children is no
substitute for
giving them our time.)

a. Consider how you would do on the test of giving
your time to others?

     C. Do the Corinthians have a good track record
on giving?
(Verse 10 suggests that they started out right.)

          1. So why has
Paul spent so much time talking about those
Why not say to the Corinthians, “Good job.
Keep it up!”(Something
must have happened to the
Corinthian project. 
They started well, but v.11 tells us
that they did
not finish their giving project.)

     D. We have talked about how our giving is an
indicator of our
love. What does v.12 teach us is the most
important factor in
our giving?

          1. Is it the
amount of money that we give? (If we are
“willing,” Paul
tells us the gift is acceptable.  The
absolute amount
of the gift is not relevant because “the
gift is acceptable
according to what one has, not
according to
what he does not have.”)

          2. Does our “willingness”
to give come back to the issue
of our love?
(Yes! My study convinces me that our
attitude is
the most important element in our salvation.
In discussing
salvation we talk of faith v. works.  What
we really need
to talk about is our attitude!)

a. How do we change our attitude? (Only the Lord can
change our heart. Ezekiel 11:19 tells us that th
Lord can remove our heart of stone and give us a
heart of flesh!)

     E. Read 2 Corinthians 8:13-15. What is the
goal of our giving?

          1. We were troubled
in the first part of our discussion
by the fact
that the impoverished Macedonians were called
upon to give
to the poor in Jerusalem. What does Paul say
about requiring
those in need to give to others who are
in need? (The
goal is equality according to Paul, not
giving to others
so that they will have more than you

          2. Financial
equality is a foreign word for those of us
in a free-enterprise
economy. What should we do to
implement Paul’s
advice on giving?

          3. In verse 15
Paul quotes Exodus 16:14-21, which
describes God’s
gift of food to the Israelites.

a. Does the fact that the “manna” that was horded
became infested with maggots and began to stink say
anything to us about hording money?

b. What do we learn from the fact that:

(1) Any manna left on the ground melted?

(2) It was provided every day by the Lord?

(3) That God had a set amount for each person
to eat?

     F. Do we need to re-examine our giving? Is
it possible that
our hearts are not what they should be?
That we are lacking
in love? That we have not “caught the
vision” of our Master
who died for us?


to eat?

     F. Do we need to re-examine our giving? Is
it possible that
our hearts are not what they should be?
That we are lacking
in love? That we have not “caught the
vision” of our Master
who died for us?