The Grace of Giving
“…the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches…”
2 CORINTHIANS 8:1
Paul had to be disappointed as he watched the Corinthian church back away from a financial commitment they had made. And in two powerful chapters of the second epistle to that church, he argued powerfully, throwing reason after reason at them, hoping something would land on their hearts, that they would come to understand that giving in its essence imitates and honors Christ.
When we allow our money to further the Kingdom of God, it is a signal that Christ’s sacrificial nature has made inroads in that most “sacred” of battlegrounds, our pocketbook.
And so Paul let the church at Corinth know about the Macedonian churches, how in the middle of a severe trial (a pandemic??) and struggling to make ends meet, they begged (begging to give – love that!) to have the privilege of sharing the little they had to bless God’s people in need.
Paul mentions that this gracious act of giving was entirely on their own, meaning he didn’t have to compel them, for God had blessed them with the grace of Giving, so that they were supernaturally enabled! (8:1) Turns out they actually exceeded Paul’s expectations, giving not merely as much as they were able (which is commendable) but even beyond their ability. There must have been some courageous faith and trust going on in these Macedonian believers!
Perhaps the key was that they “gave themselves first to the Lord?” (8:5) It all starts there. “God,” they seemed to say, “what I have is yours.”
In our Proverbs passage this Sunday, God presents us with a call to generous giving. It is a challenge – a divine dare, if you like – requiring trust and faith.
“Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.”
This challenge appears elsewhere in scripture. In Malachi 3 God says, “Test me in this,” and from our Lord’s mouth Jesus says that if we give, it will be given to us.
“A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”
Wow. Look at these promises – barns overflowing, vats filled to the brim, our laps filled with God’s goodness in response to our giving. What a beautiful privilege to honor God with our possessions and our money. And when it goes to further his purposes, he looks out for us. That’s his commitment.
You’ve heard it said, “You can’t outgive God.” That’s not a cliché. It’s true. Are you ready to put it to the test? Our God is faithful, and he always keeps his word.
Song Link of the Week
All I Am by Phil Wickham