The Grace of Giving

“We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord” (2 Corinthians 8:1-3).

In writing to Christians at Corinth, Paul cites the example of their northern neighbors in Macedonia in the matter of giving. These Macedonian Christians were not advantaged in the usual sense of the word. In fact, many stood at the brink of poverty as the verses above indicate. Yet that poverty did not have an adverse effect on their spiritual life. It actually stirred up a spirit of generosity so that they gave to relieve the poor saints at Jerusalem.

How should we give?

1. Generously.
The term “generous” implies much more than “amount.” The generous person does not reluctantly part with his or her means or resources. They give because their heart prompts them to do so. The Macedonian believers gave “of their own accord” and in the “abundance of joy.” Although they were poor, the heard of the greater poverty of the saints in Jerusalem who need fast relief. They responded to their need and gave generously.

2. From the heart.
Verse five provides the reason for their generosity: “…they gave themselves first to the Lord.” No one can give generously for long or do anything for the Lord without first fully committing to Him. They set their priorities in order and then God used them in mighty ways.

In verse four, Paul mentions that they actually begged to be part of the giving community. Why? God captured their heart and set it on fire for Christ. His work comes first, and we have the privilege of participating.

3. Sacrificially.
Not only did they give from their means, but they gave “beyond their means” (8:3). Apparently they sacrificed extra pleasures or comforts in order to attend to the saints at Jerusalem.

When we give our hearts to the Lord, amazing things happen. Instead of clutching on to every penny as if we could take it with us to heaven, we willingly part with it knowing we make a sound investment: We invest in the work of God in reaching others for Him.

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