Attitude of Volunteerism

Lesson 1998
Tags: Ministry; Church; Christian service; Christian giving; Jerusalem offering; 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Excerpted from Serving God: A Plan for Success
Related Resources: Grace Giving: An Analysis of 2 Corinthians 8-9Missions Giving: Ministry through Generosity (2 Corinthians 8:1-9:15)

Biblical Text

2 Corinthians 8.1-9

1     Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;

2     How that in a great trial of aflliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.

3     For to [their] power, I bear record, yea, and beyond [their] power [they were] willing of themselves;

4     Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and [take upon us] the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.

5     And [this they did], not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

6     Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also.

7     Therefore, 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.

8     I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love.

9     For 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.


  • Paul appealed to the Corinthians on the basis of the example of the churches of Macedonia (Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea). His intent was that they follow through on their earlier intent to contribute to an offering for the poor Christians in Jerusalem (8.10-11). The Macedonian example was the only “soapbox” he needed. Though the Macedonian Christians were very poor and found themselves under troublesome circumstances (8.2), God poured out his grace on and through them (8.1). Their surrender to the Lord gave way to a yielding to God’s will as embodied in Paul’s plan to collect an offering for Jerusalem (8.5). Such was their willingness to give (8.3) that, given their impoverished state, they had to persuade Paul and his associates to accept their gift (8.4).
  • It is stated that they overflowed in “the riches of their liberality” (8.2). In other words, they showed themselves to be very generous. It is interesting to note the two conditions under which this liberality emerged: abundant joy and deep poverty (8.2). How did joy and poverty combine to produce a liberal gift? It was a matter of will. They had given themselves to the Lord and were willing to commit to the will of God for their lives (8.5). They were willing to do all that was in their power to serve God; in fact, they were willing “beyond their power” (8.3). They were determined to give their gift; no objection from Paul would stop them (8.4). Theirs was an example of forwardness (spoude, haste, earnestness, diligence) to serve (8.8), patterned after the vicarious atonement provided by Christ (8.9).


  • The account of the Macedonian churches’ generosity teaches us that heart condition—not economic status—is the key to giving.
  • The example given in 2 Corinthians 8 teaches a valuable lesson concerning serving God: Many times the major reason we find it difficult to serve God is that we lack willingness to do so. The Macedonians were willing, and they found a way to give. (Didn’t someone once say, “Where there’s a will there’s a way”?) It follows that one of the keys to success in serving God is an attitude of volunteerism.


  • Are we American Christians achieving our potential for spiritual service, particularly in the light of the wealth God has chosen to give us? Is our church serving God as it should? Are you fulfilling God’s design for your life in the matter of service?
  • Can you share a testimony about how God helped you to serve him once you took the initiative and volunteered?