2 Corinthians 8:1 (NIV)
1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
On verse 1: Paul encourages his church in Corinth to learn from the example of the churches he helped to start in the northern region of Macedonia. How about you? Are you willing to learn from others? Part of following Jesus is being willing to change and learn from the example of others. That's why at Thrive we talk about becoming Christ-like disciples. We want to learn to live the way Christ did.
2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV)
7 But just as you excel in everything--in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us--see that you also excel...
On verse 7: To "excel" means to be exceptionally good at something. God has called us to excel -- not to be mediocre, or just so so -- but to be exceptionally good at the things God has called us to. So whether it's in your ministry, your work, your studies, your relationships, don't just aim to get by; aim to excel. For God's glory, strive for excellence in what you do.
2 Corinthians 8:7 (NIV)
7 ...in this grace of giving.
On verse 7b: Notice that Paul doesn't call it the "obligation of giving" or the "duty of giving" or the "burden of giving", but the "grace of giving". In other words, that we can give financially to help others and to build Jesus' church is not a duty or a burden; it's an undeserved honour and privilege given to us by God. Giving is an opportunity to show God's love to others. Let's not take that grace for granted.
Since your money is representative of your time and energy, the most practical way to lay down your life (or to share it with others) is to give financially.
2 Corinthians 8:9 (NIV)
9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
On verse 9: I like how Pastor Jon Courson puts it. He says Jesus was born in a borrowed cradle, preached from a borrowed boat, rode on a borrowed donkey to Jerusalem, used a borrowed room to eat his last supper, and was buried in a borrowed grave. The One who made everything gave it all up for us so that we could have everything.
2 Corinthians 8:11 (NIV)
11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means.
On verse 11: Paul is saying, "You said you want to do it (giving to others, that is), so do it." Don't fall into the trap of thinking that you are spiritually mature just because you want to do certain spiritual things or believe certain spiritual truths. As James 1:23 says, "Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says." That's where the blessing is: it's when you act in faith on what you believe and hear from God's Word. The blessing comes not just when you say you want to do something, but when you actually do it. What is something from God's Word that you say you are eager to do, but have still yet to do? If you want to be blessed, don't just talk about doing it. Just do it!
May you excel in the grace of giving, and in this way share the love of Christ with others.