Generosity Is Not Optional (2 Corinthians 8:1–9)
As we noted in the introduction, 2 Corinthians 8 and 9 form a separate section of Paul’s letter in which he addresses the topic of the collection for the churches in Judea. This project was a passion of the apostle’s, and he promoted it vigorously in his churches (1 Cor. 16:1–3). Paul begins this section by pointing to the exemplary generosity of the churches in Macedonia and implying that he expects no less from the Corinthians. Just as the believers in Corinth have displayed an abundance of faith, ability to proclaim the truth, knowledge, enthusiasm, and love, so they should also strive to abound in the “gift” (Gk. charis) of generosity. The term “gift” has a double meaning here. It has the sense of “spiritual gift,” referring to God’s gift to them of the virtue of generosity, and it has the sense of “donation,” referring to their gifts of money to the collection. This makes the point doubly clear that generosity is not an option for Christians, but part of the Spirit’s work in our lives.
In the workplace, a generous spirit is the oil that makes things run smoothly on a number of levels. Employees who sense that their employers are generous will be more willing to make sacrifices for their organizations when they become necessary. Workers who are generous with their co-workers will create a ready source of help for themselves and a more joyful and satisfying experience for everyone.
Generosity is not always a matter of money. To name only a few examples, employers can be generous by taking time to mentor workers, providing a workplace of beauty, offering opportunities for training and development, genuinely listening to someone with a problem or complaint, or visiting an employee’s family member in the hospital. Co-workers can offer generosity by helping others do their work better, making sure no one is left out socially, standing up for those who suffer misuse, offering true friendship, sharing praise, apologizing for offenses, and simply learning the names of workers who might otherwise be invisible to us. Steve Harrison tells of two surgical residents at the University of Washington who competed to see who could learn the names of more nurse’s aides, custodians, transport, and dietary staff and then greet them by name whenever they saw them.
Literally, “in speech.” See Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 574.
Steve Harrison, The Manager’s Book of Decencies (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2007), 67.