St Paul turns to another subject in the reading from II Corinthians (8:7-15) for Sunday, and the subject is the collection made by the Corinthians for the benefit of the church in Jerusalem.

Acts (11:27-30) records that the church in Antioch sent Paul and Silas to Jerusalem with relief for the church there. Later Paul organized a project of support for Jerusalem from the churches he established, and early evidence of this project is found in I Corinthians 16:1-4.

Sunday we hear that the precedent of such collections roots in “the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ” (8:9), “though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (8:9). St Paul encourages the Corinthians to continue their good deed of similar generosity: “now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means” (8:11).

St Paul concludes his advice about finishing the project with concepts of equality and balance. “I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance” (8:13-14).

Paul finds an example of such equality and balance in God’s gift of manna to Israel in the desert. Equality was achieved by God who gave with an even hand according to need: “As it is written, ‘The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little’” (Exodus 16:18). Thus St Paul in using the idea of fair balance implies that the need to receive finds a balance in giver’s need to give, a very important part of a sound theology of stewardship.

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