GATHERING MUCH OR LITTLE
2 Corinthians 8:12-15 For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. For I mean not that other men be eased, and ye burdened: but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality: as it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.
In the lesson text, Paul continues his admonitions on charity to the congregation of Christ in Corinth. Not only will their gifts to the Christians of Judea be beneficial to those in need, but also their demonstration of love would be spiritually profitable to them as well. The collection for this special need had already begun, but Paul encouraged them to complete, and deliver it, to those in need (See preceding verses 10-11). Contributions may be beneficial to the recipients, but for the giver to benefit, that is, to be acceptable to God and, thus, lay up a treasure in heaven, there must be first a willing mind to do so. To be acceptable to God, deeds of kindness must never be done grudgingly or of necessity.
God expects giving to be done according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not. No one is expected to give beyond that which they are able to give. God measures one's gift according to the blessings He has bestowed upon them - He expects no more, or no less. A contribution made from the abundance of one's wealth may render considerably more relief to the needy, but it will yield no more spiritual blessing than the two mites of the poor widow, as noted in Matthew 12:42-44. One is not required to give to ease the burden of others, and, in doing so, become as burdened as those to whom they are giving.
This, Paul explains in verse 14, as he writes, but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality. At this particular time, there was a desperate need in Judea due to a great dearth, ...which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar (Acts 11:28). It was this need, which the members of the churches of Macedonia, Achaia, and of other areas, were urged to supply from the abundance God had given them. Paul explains that if they had a similar need, the Christians from churches in Judea would have the same obligation to be a supply for your want. Within the body of Christ, brotherly love is to exist and abound. Where one is lacking, others should supply their need, that there may be equality, with no one lacking.
Paul emphasizes this commandment of God to His church, by quoting a passage from the Old Testament (Ex. 16:18). There we read, as it is written, he that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack. This quotation applied to the Jewish nation regarding the gathering of manna. Each family was to gather an omer for every man, according to the number of your persons. In doing so, some gathered more, (and) some less (See Ex. 16:16-17). This indicated that after the gathering of manna, it was measured out in a container holding the quantity of an omer. When this was done, some had gathered more than their family required, and some less. The overage of some was used to offset the quantity of those that had not gathered enough to satisfy their family's need. Thus, the abundance of one satisfied the need of another, and equality was achieved. Making this application to the church at Corinth, Paul told them, inferring that, at this time they had "gathered" more than they currently needed, and those in Judea had "gathered" less. Therefore, they were obligated to use the surplus that they had to supply the deficiency of their fellow Christians, and, by this equality, all may have the necessities of life.
Wealth, as well as talents and abilities, are useless while they are stored away. They rust, decay, and their usefulness is lost forever. Manna from heaven was given by God to sustain the physical life of the Jewish nation. Just as manna decayed and became useless on the second day after it was gathered, so does stored wealth beyond one's needs. (Note: Manna gathered, and kept, on the sixth, was edible for two days, in order to keep from laboring on the Sabbath Day). Read James 5:2-4. This passage tells us that riches that are stored away, when it could be used to serve God, and fill the needs of those suffering from the lack of the necessities of life, will become corrupted, moth-eaten, cankered, and are wasted. They shall be a witness against you on Judgment Day.
Whether you gather much in life or little, with a willing mind, share your God-given blessings with other fellow Christians, and to all that are in need - nothing over and no lack!