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The haves and the have nots

2 Corinthians 8-9

by Jack Norman

The Apostle Paul wrote 2 Corinthians chapters 8-9 to remind the church in Corinth about the needs of the church in Jerusalem. Christians there were experiencing extreme suffering and poverty in no small part because of persecution. In his letter Paul reminds the Corinthians of all that God had done for them, and of how they had at one point seemed eager to give to support their fellow Christians in Jerusalem but had not yet followed through on this conviction. He gives them, and Christians today, a model of what true Christian giving should look like.

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I first met Anna five years ago in Upper Egypt. During this first of many meetings since then, her team took me to visit Christians who had fled persecution in their own villages, and who were now living in extreme poverty as they tried to rebuild their lives. Read more…

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. In 2 Corinthians 8 v 13-15 Paul urges the Corinthian church to help the believers in Jerusalem so that there would be greater equality between them. What practical steps might your church – and you personally – take to strive towards greater equality with Christians across the world who suffer as a result of persecution?
  2. What is your belief and understanding about the power of prayer? Do you recognise it as a ‘weapon’ you can use to help Christians facing persecution across the world? Which of the following statements do you agree with? a) Prayer is the most important weapon; b) We could pray, but what is really needed is our money; c) Prayer is the most important weapon but to be sincere prayer it must be accompanied by actions?
  3. How does the knowledge of all that God has done for us in Christ shape our understanding of how we should respond when we hear of other Christians who are in need?
  4. Read Psalm 112 which describes the ‘righteous’ in God’s eyes and is quoted by Paul in 2 Corinthians 9 v 9. When Paul quotes the words, ‘They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor,’ what do you think he means, and what response is he looking for from the church in Corinth? How should we go about applying this to ourselves today?
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