It is worth pausing to think a little bit about these people who shared in the work with Paul. Titus had a long history with Paul. The first historical incident that we have is the one Paul tells us about in Galatians. Paul was in a great theological tussle in those days because there was a kind of Christian Judaism that was trying to force the Jewish law upon Gentiles.

2 Corinthians falls into three sections. The middle section - chapters 8 and 9 - forms a whole section, because those two chapters deal with a collection that Paul was trying to receive from the church in Corinth. In addition to the church in Corinth, the collection involved the surrounding churches, as well as churches in Macedonia, Achaia, and other parts of the world that he had evangelized.

This is what Christian people need to do. If people today would really give themselves first to the Lord, they would give their time, their money, and everything else to one another. And the work of God would go forward in our day in ways that we could not possibly imagine. This is what Paul says to the church at Corinth. They gave, but like so many, they started well and did not continue. Paul pointed to the Macedonians as a great example of those who not only gave but desired to give. In verse 11 he encouraged them to keep it up, to finish the work, and carry it through to the end.

At this point, you may be thinking that you are just not up to that sort of giving. But if that is the case, you have to read on because Paul not only gives a great formula for giving, but he gives the secret to that kind of giving, again using the Christians in Macedonia as an illustration. He wrote in verse 5, "And they did not do as we expected." They expected the Macedonian churches to give something, but they just did not give as expected. "They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will."

The reason Paul encourages his readers to give is that when we look to our resources, we really are trusting human ability. And whenever we are trusting human ability, we are trusting that which is inevitably finite and incomplete. Even our trust is sinful. But what happens with the measure of trust we have - if we take a small portion and give it away to the Lord? He will give the increase. When we give out of our poverty - we are not trusting what we have, because we have nothing - we are trusting God to see what he will provide for the extension of his kingdom in the world.