S (Scripture): 2 Corinthians 8:1 Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia, 8:2 that during a severe ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in the wealth of their generosity. 8:3 For I testify, they gave according to their means and beyond their means. They did so voluntarily, 8:4 begging us with great earnestness for the blessing and fellowship of helping the saints. 8:5 And they did this not just as we had hoped, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us by the will of God. 8:6 Thus we urged Titus that, just as he had previously begun this work, so also he should complete this act of kindness for you. 8:7 But as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you – make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too. 8:8 I am not saying this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love by comparison with the eagerness of others. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich.
O (Observation): Paul continues to address the church in Corinth, this time addressing an offering that he is asking from the Corinthians, to help out the other faith communities. He testifies that the churches in Macedonia, strapped for cash as they were, gave “according to their means, and even beyond their means.”
Paul points out that this gift from the Macedonian churches came not from Paul’s persuasion, but from the fact that the people of those churches “gave themselves first to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” In other words, this was an act of grace, made possible through the Lord.
Now, Paul encourages the Corinthian churches to tap into that same source of grace…to encourage them to give, knowing that the Lord Jesus Christ himself is the one making all believers rich in Spirit, so that all value their identity in Him more than worldly possessions.
A (Application): Giving to the church and other organizations is always an act of God’s grace. Why would we part with hard-earned dollars? What would possess someone to give up something they rightly earned?
This comes down to an issue of Identity, for me. In what do I trust? In whom do I trust? If the answer is the Lord Jesus Christ, then that means I’m called to follow His example, and to embrace the richness of His grace poured out in my life.
Paul talks about how we become co-heirs with Christ (in his letter to the church in Rome). If in my identity I know that I’m a co-heir with Christ, no earthly wealth could match the inheritance I receive as a child of God.
THEREFORE, I will continue to give according to my ability, and beyond it, knowing that God will sustain me. And I will not feel guilty or compelled to give, out of selfish desire. (And yes, I will slip and fall along the way…but with this understanding of identity and hope and joy in Christ, it’s a pretty darn good goal to keep in mind.)
So how goes your personal giving patterns? What identity issues cause you to have a desire to give? From where does that desire come? From faith? Trying to simply be a kind person? Feel free to leave a response below.
P (Prayer): Lord, we so often get scared to talk to others about our giving and personal finances. Please send a word of grace to all people to not be ashamed or worried about finances, but instead give us all inspiration to trust you and our fellow believers to counsel one another and to sharpen our understanding of what it means to be a child of God, and co-heir with you. Amen.