Therefore dear friends, since we have such promises, we should wash ourselves clean from every impurity of the flesh and spirit, making our sanctification complete in the fear of God.
Take us into your hearts. We have wronged no one, corrupted no one, defrauded no one.
I don't say this to condemn you, for I have already said that you are in our hearts, to die together and to live together.
I have great confidence in you; I have great pride in you. I am filled with encouragement; I am overcome with joy in all our afflictions.
In fact, when we came into Macedonia, we had no rest. Instead, we were afflicted in every way: struggles on the outside, fears inside.
But God, who comforts the humble, comforted us by the coming of Titus,
and not only by his coming, but also by the comfort he received from you. He announced to us your deep longing, your sorrow, your zeal for me, so that I rejoiced even more.
For although I grieved you with my letter, I do not regret it-- even though I did regret it since I saw that the letter grieved you, though only for a little while.
Now I am rejoicing, not because you were grieved, but because your grief led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn't experience any loss from us.
For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.
For consider how much diligence this very thing-- this grieving as God wills-- has produced in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you have commended yourselves to be pure in this matter.
So even though I wrote to you, it was not because of the one who did wrong, or because of the one who was wronged, but in order that your diligence for us might be made plain to you in the sight of God.
For this reason we have been comforted. In addition to our comfort, we were made to rejoice even more over the joy Titus had, because his spirit was refreshed by all of you.
For if I have made any boast to him about you, I have not been embarrassed; but as I have spoken everything to you in truth, so our boasting to Titus has also turned out to be the truth.
And his affection toward you is even greater as he remembers the obedience of all of you, and how you received him with fear and trembling.
I rejoice that I have complete confidence in you.
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God granted to the churches of Macedonia:
during a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity.
I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability,
they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints,
and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves especially to the Lord, then to us by God's will.
So we urged Titus that, just as he had begun, so he should also complete this grace to you.
Now as you excel in everything-- in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us-- excel also in this grace.
I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love.
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: although He was rich, for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich.
Now I am giving an opinion on this because it is profitable for you, who a year ago began not only to do something but also to desire it.
But now finish the task as well, that just as there was eagerness to desire it, so there may also be a completion from what you have.
For if the eagerness is there, it is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
It is not that there may be relief for others and hardship for you, but it is a question of equality--
at the present time your surplus is [available] for their need, so that their abundance may also become [available] for your need, that there may be equality.
As it has been written: The person who gathered much did not have too much, and the person who gathered little did not have too little.
Thanks be to God who put the same diligence for you into the heart of Titus.
For he accepted our urging and, being very diligent, went out to you by his own choice.
With him we have sent the brother who is praised throughout the churches for his gospel ministry.
And not only that, but he was also appointed by the churches to accompany us with this gift that is being administered by us for the glory of the Lord Himself and to show our eagerness [to help].
We are taking this precaution so no one can find fault with us concerning this large sum administered by us.
For we are making provision for what is honorable, not only before the Lord but also before men.
We have also sent with them our brother whom we have often tested, in many circumstances, and found diligent-- and now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you.
As for Titus, he is my partner and co-worker serving you; as for our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.
Therefore, before the churches, show them the proof of your love and of our boasting about you.
Now concerning the ministry to the saints, it is unnecessary for me to write to you.
For I know your eagerness, and I brag about you to the Macedonians: "Achaia has been prepared since last year," and your zeal has stirred up most of them.
But I sent the brothers so our boasting about you in the matter would not prove empty, and so you would be prepared just as I said.
For if any Macedonians should come with me and find you unprepared, we, not to mention you, would be embarrassed in that situation.
Therefore I considered it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance the generous gift you promised, so that it will be ready as a gift and not an extortion.
Remember this: the person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.
Each person should do as he has decided in his heart-- not out of regret or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.
And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.
As it is written: He has scattered; He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.
Now the One who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness,
as you are enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us.
For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many acts of thanksgiving to God.
Through the proof of this service, they will glorify God for your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with others.
And in their prayers for you they will have deep affection for you because of the surpassing grace of God on you.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.