you have prepared for those who love you
such good things as pass our understanding:
pour into our hearts such love toward you
that we, loving you in all things and above all things,
may obtain your promises,
which exceed all that we can desire;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen.
2 Corinthians 8.1–15
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,
‘The one who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have too little.’
O consider my affliction and deliver me,
for I do not forget your law.
Plead my cause and redeem me;
according to your promise, give me life.
Salvation is far from the wicked,
for they do not seek your statutes.
Great is your compassion, O Lord;
give me life, according to your judgements.
Many there are that persecute and oppress me,
yet do I not swerve from your testimonies.
It grieves me when I see the treacherous,
for they do not keep your word.
Consider, O Lord, how I love your commandments;
give me life according to your loving-kindness.
The sum of your word is truth,
and all your righteous judgements endure for evermore.
Princes have persecuted me without a cause,
but my heart stands in awe of your word.
I am as glad of your word
as one who finds great spoils.
As for lies, I hate and abhor them,
but your law do I love.
Seven times a day do I praise you,
because of your righteous judgements.
Great peace have they who love your law;
nothing shall make them stumble.
Lord, I have looked for your salvation
and I have fulfilled your commandments.
My soul has kept your testimonies
and greatly have I loved them.
I have kept your commandments and testimonies,
for all my ways are before you.
Let my cry come before you, O Lord;
give me understanding, according to your word.
Let my supplication come before you;
deliver me, according to your promise.
My lips shall pour forth your praise,
when you have taught me your statutes.
My tongue shall sing of your word,
for all your commandments are righteous.
Let your hand reach out to help me,
for I have chosen your commandments.
I have longed for your salvation, O Lord,
and your law is my delight.
Let my soul live and it shall praise you,
and let your judgements be my help.
I have gone astray like a sheep that is lost;
O seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.