I closed with these words of Jesus last week: “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
I find myself pondering this passage today. There is so much here for us to consider. If I had to pick one thought from this, “Rich Generosity” would come to the top of my list. I have broken this out into three parts to help with our discussion today.
2 Cor 8:1-5 “Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.”
2 Cor 8:6-9 “So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches. You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.”
2 Cor 8:10-14 “Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal.”
Back Drop: This passage of scripture has reference to taking a special collection from the Gentile churches for a gift to the poor believers in Jerusalem.
We find Paul giving his advice, not demanding that the Corinthians should finish what they had started a year earlier. It is unclear why they did not finish what they had intended to do. Paul was now sending Titus to encourage them to finish what they started.
These things stand out to me as I look at the Macedonians:
1.It all starts with giving themselves to the Lord. It was Gods grace which enabled them to give themselves to him, and their goods to his saints.
2.Paul speaks of the “grace”, this kindness that was bestowed upon the churches in Macedonia. They rejoiced that the opportunity was afforded them of doing good to help their more impoverished and more persecuted brethren.
3.Paul goes on to share that their gift was of their own free will. Paul didn’t have to ask them to give a gift. The Macedonians asked to give and counted it a privilege in sharing a gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
4.Even in their own extreme poverty, persecution, many troubles, severe trials did not stop them from giving what they could. They were filled with abundant joy to do this, which overflowed in rich generosity.
So I must confess, when times are pressing with bills to pay and the balance in the checkbook is looking short, I can hold the “checkbook” tighter. I tend to hold back, be more careful in how much I give. So the Macedonians have challenged me personally in my giving when a special financial need arises to help others. Asking God for that “grace,” to be filled with “abundant joy” in wanting to give, that overflows to “rich generosity” in giving what I can.
May the Macedonians be an example and encouragement to us in “rich generosity”