Use one or both of these questions to introduce the lesson:
1. Which of these statements do you hear most often: “I am rich” or “He (or she) is rich”? What are some reasons we might think someone else is rich but not see ourselves as rich?
2. Name some of the most generous people you have heard about. In your opinion, is there a relationship between being wealthy and being generous? Why or why not?
Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-9.
1. Paul’s letters to the church at Corinth reveal a selfish and arrogant church. Read verse 7 carefully. How is Paul using that arrogance to spur the Corinthians to a deeper level of selflessness and generosity?
2. Give some examples of how people measure their own virtue by comparing themselves to others. (Examples: “I never stretch the truth like he does” or “I am more active in the church than she is.”) According to Paul, who should be our generosity “measuring stick?” Why?
Read 2 Corinthians 8:10-12.
3. Paul wrote about this collection in his earlier letter to Corinth (1 Corinthians 16:1, 2). From what you read in 2 Corinthians 8:7-9, do you think they followed his advice? Why or why not?
4. Try reading between the lines of these verses. Earlier, the Corinthians had been excited about the collection and apparently made promises. At this point, however, they had not fulfilled those promises. What would you guess were some of their excuses for not doing so?
Read 2 Corinthians 8:13-15.
5. Think of some of the many ways you have heard someone complete this complaint: “Why do I always have to be the one who _______________?” Looking at verse 13, how did the Corinthians complete this same complaint?
6. Some modern economic systems speak of income inequality and support the idea of redistribution of wealth. They see the income of a community like the ubiquitous tip jar at a lunch counter. At the end of the day, the jar’s contents are divided equally among employees. Is this the idea of equality that Paul proposed? If not, what was Paul saying?
7. Notice that Paul closed his arguments by referring to the “income” of manna that the Israelites collected in the wilderness (Exodus 16:18). This six-day-a-week food shower always provided each family exactly what they needed. No one starved, and no one stockpiled food. How would your generosity be affected if you were to view your income as a daily manna from Heaven rather than just the result of your own ability and effort?