Sunday favorites

2 Corinthians 8:8-15

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something — now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has — not according to what one does not have. 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. 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.”

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  • Anonymous

    I’ve been waiting for the Sunday morning encouragement/inspiration post to make this comment: NPR had an interesting story about a guy who put Luke 6:29 into practice. He doesn’t cite the Bible, so I don’t know if he was thinking specifically of that.

    It’s a couple years old, so maybe it was mentioned on Slacktivist before. If so, apologies.

  • MaryKaye

    My hackles just go up at the phrase “testing your love.”  Maybe the connotations are different across the gap of centuries and languages…but here and now, people who say they are doing that are trouble.

    The whole quote has a, to me, unsavory tone of “you don’t just have to do good, you have to show me you are doing good.”

  • Amaryllis

    There’s a place out on the edge of town sir
    Risin’ above the factories and the fields
    Now ever since I was a child I can remember that mansion on the hill

    In the day you can see the children playing
    On the road that leads to those gates of hardened steel
    Steel gates that completely surround sir the mansion on the hill

    At night my daddy’d take me and we’d ride through the streets of a town so silent and still
    Park on a back road along the highway side
    Look up at that mansion on the hill

    In the summer all the lights would shine there’d be music playin’ people laughin’ all the time
    Me and my sister we’d hide out in the tall corn fields
    Sit and listen to the mansion on the hill

    Tonight down here in Linden Town I watch the cars rushin’ by home from the mill
    There’s a beautiful full moon rising above the mansion on the hill-Bruce Springsteen

  • Anonymous

    I hadn’t thought about that. It’s an excellent illustration of how some language that was probably perfectly innocuous when first written (in Greek) turns, in 21st century English (and Anglophone cultures) into a problem. Most of us have had a specific set of connotations associated with the word “test” since we were about six years old–and they’re not very positive ones. We also tend to object to people setting themselves above others (except when it comes to money, which our culture accepts). Paul’s audience wouldn’t have had the same meaning for the Greek equivalent of “test,” and their cultural ideas of hierarchy would be different.

    I’m guessing also, since they were adherents of a new religion that the writer know more about than they did, that they wouldn’t take the idea of his saying “OK, you need to show that you’re serious about this” ill.

  • If anyone is interested, this is the entry on the word in question in the middle Liddell:

    δοκιμάζω δόκιμος
    I. to assay or test metals, to see if they be pure, Isocr., etc.
    II. of persons, to put to the test, make trial of, scrutiniseHdt., Thuc.: —then, to approve,id=Thuc., Plat., etc.; c. inf., ἐκπονεῖν ἐδοκίμαζε he approved of their working, Xen.
    III. at Athens, to approve as fit for an office, and in Pass. to be approved as fitPlat., etc.; c. inf., ἱππεύειν δεδοκιμασμένος Xen.

    2. to examine and admit boys to the class of ἔφηβοι or ἔφηβοι to the rights of manhood; and in Pass. to be so admittedAr., etc.; ἕως ἀνὴρ εἶναι δοκιμασθείην Dem.

    IV. c. inf. to think fit to do, or with negat. to refuse to do, NTest.

    The form looks to be a present active participle, nominative masculine singular.

    This is brought to you by the Perseus Digital Library’s online Middle Liddell, because there’s the above isn’t something I’d type out by hand.  (Also because I don’t have a Greek bible, so I use their online Greek text to find out what the Greek says.)

  • It sounds like the best meaning in context might translate as “scrutinize your own faith”.

  • Amaryllis

    The passage come right after a description of the generous spirit of another church, even under difficulites:

    “In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. ”

    So is this incitement to competition– a first century fund drive? Or is the church in Macedonia being held up as an example of what’s possible– so in that light, consider what’s possible for you, here and now?