What Sharing with Equality Is and Is Not.

We have been studying the character of the saved heart that desires to share resources to meet the needs of the church Body in order to share the Gospel more effectively. The context of 2 Corinthians 8-9 is that of one church giving to another. The giver's heart is based in the principle that everything we own is God's, not ours.

What does it mean to share according to one's ability (2 Corinthians 8:11-12)? An illustration may help. When moving a large piece of furniture, all members of a family pitch in to help. Younger children may carry a little weight according to their size, and stronger siblings and parents will be able to carry more; but all are contributing according to their ability.

Sharing Does Not Require Changing One's Demographic

The goal of sharing resources in the church is not to equalize everyone's socio-economic standing; it is to make sure needs are cared for so that churches can continue to exist in every area for the spreading of the Gospel. This should never be at the expense of the home church.

The Meaning of Equality

2 Corinthians 8:14 uses the word "equality" in the activity of sharing. Our culture has its own definition of what "equality" means; but how does God define it? The Greek word "isosthes" mean fairness, equilibrium, or balance.

God created human beings as equal in value, all bearing the image of God and with the same purpose, yet created with difference. Individuals are differently skilled for differing roles. There is a diversity of responsibility with an equal nature in the unity of personhood.

Humanity's fall into sin affects the function of these responsibilities. God's Word promises a future restoration of God's design (Micah 4:1-7).

In the church, fairness is demonstrated in each believer's equal indwelling by the Holy Spirit and many other blessings. At the same time, believers are given different abilities and responsibilities within the local church.

This principle of fairness co-existing with difference is also demonstrated in nature. The phenomenon of isostasy describes how geological pressures keep land masses in balance.

Therefore, the goal of sharing in the church is to meet needs (primarily food, shelter, and clothing), not to make life harder for some and easier for others. The Old Testament example in 2 Corinthians 8:15 demonstrates this principle. The goal is always for Gospel purpose.

Application Points

  • The biblical principle of giving is that everyone in the church does their part, according to their ability. Are you? Why or why not? Don't wait for your circumstances to change. Trust God and obey today.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • 1 Thessalonians 1:6-9 – Many texts assume giving and tell how to use the collected resources.
  • 1 Timothy 6:12-19 – The fleeting nature of wealth.