Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality. For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.
– 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
I have been studying this chapter of 2 Corinthians for over a month and I am blown away by the overflowing generosity of the Macedonians which Paul highlights.
My wife and I have been examining our own generosity and have asked ourselves if it come to this level. Sadly enough I don’t think so, but the Holy Spirit is convicting us and moving in us to desire to give more. These verses should cause us all to look at our generosity.
So why do we not give like the Macedonians? Could it be a lack of trusting God for our provision? Could we be holding back out of fear that what we do have will run out or dry up?
2 Corinthians 8 is an example we all should follow. But how is this overflowing of giving accomplished? As we examine our giving and generosity in these verses, two words come to mind: grace and thankfulness.
Giving out of Grace
God’s grace had been given to the church at Macedonia and that same grace has been given to us! We see this also in Ephesians 2:7, “so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” This grace of God is exactly what it says – a gift! There is absolutely nothing we could have done to earn it. This knowledge of the gift of grace the Macedonians had been given in Christ compelled them to given abundantly. That same gracious gift should compel us to do the same. It is the catalyst to abundant generosity.
Giving out of Thankfulness
Have you ever received a gift and were in awe of receiving it? It was just what you were wanting or longing to have. Then after opening the box your eyes lit up with the sheer jubilation of receiving it! Your likely response was an abundance of thankfulness, a smile or saying thank you, maybe tears and a hug for the giver. Is that your response to Jesus – your Redeemer, Savior and Lord – who is now seated at the right hand of the Father? It was for the Macedonians and should be the same for us. In verse 5 it says they first gave themselves to the Lord. Grace came to them, which brought about faith, then repentance, then expression of belief. Once we became His child, what we have belongs to him completely – everything. Out of the Macedonians abject poverty they gave in rich generosity because of their thankfulness for the gift of grace. They were willing to forgo a legitimate want for a legitimate need. Are we willing to do the same?
We have a good, good Father. He is willing to provide to overflowing. Malachi 3:10 says, “Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this,” says the Lord of hosts, “if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.”
Does God want us to work? Yes. Does God want to provide for our needs? Yes. Does God want us to hoard those provisions for our own comfort? No. We are to give back with joy. We should give without being prodded or prompted. When we do that, it is not an outward expression but a heartfelt expression of grace we received and the thankfulness for that gift.