And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace God gave the churches in Macedonia.
They have been tested by great troubles, and they are very poor. But they gave much because of their great joy.
I can tell you that they gave as much as they were able and even more than they could afford. No one told them to do it.
But they begged and pleaded with us to let them share in this service for God's people.
And they gave in a way we did not expect: They first gave themselves to the Lord and to us. This is what God wants.
So we asked Titus to help you finish this special work of grace since he is the one who started it.
You are rich in everything -- in faith, in speaking, in knowledge, in truly wanting to help, and in the love you learned from us. In the same way, be strong also in the grace of giving.
I am not commanding you to give. But I want to see if your love is true by comparing you with others that really want to help.
You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Christ was rich, but for you he became poor so that by his becoming poor you might become rich.
This is what I think you should do: Last year you were the first to want to give, and you were the first who gave.
So now finish the work you started. Then your "doing" will be equal to your "wanting to do." Give from what you have.
If you want to give, your gift will be accepted. It will be judged by what you have, not by what you do not have.
We do not want you to have troubles while other people are at ease, but we want everything to be equal.
At this time you have plenty. What you have can help others who are in need. Then later, when they have plenty, they can help you when you are in need, and all will be equal.
As it is written in the Scriptures, "The person who gathered more did not have too much, nor did the person who gathered less have too little."
I thank God because he gave Titus the same love for you that I have.
Titus accepted what we asked him to do. He wanted very much to go to you, and this was his own idea.
We are sending with him the brother who is praised by all the churches because of his service in preaching the Good News.
Also, this brother was chosen by the churches to go with us when we deliver this gift of money. We are doing this service to bring glory to the Lord and to show that we really want to help.
We are being careful so that no one will criticize us for the way we are handling this large gift.
We are trying hard to do what the Lord accepts as right and also what people think is right.
Also, we are sending with them our brother, who is always ready to help. He has proved this to us in many ways, and he wants to help even more now, because he has much faith in you.
Now about Titus -- he is my partner who is working with me to help you. And about the other brothers -- they are sent from the churches, and they bring glory to Christ.
So show these men the proof of your love and the reason we are proud of you. Then all the churches can see it.