2 Corinthians 8:1-4 (ESV)
1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 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. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—
As Paul tells the Corinthians about the giving spirit of the Macedonian churches, there are some words that strike me. Take note of just a few things that are said.
IN verse 1, Paul calls the gifts of the Macedonian churches the “grace of God.” How can this be? Clearly, when the people of God are used by God to bless other people of God, it is an evidence of God’s grace. I want to be a part of spreading God’s grace.
In verse 2, there are two things that combined to overflow in generosity from the Macedonians: their joy and their poverty. How can this be? Somehow, the joy of God was such that the Macedonians relished giving. .They relished the giving even more as it came from poverty and not from affluence or extra. Somehow the Macedonians gave out of joy and poverty. These two were not at odds. I want joy like that.
In verse 3, the Macedonians gave beyond their means. How can that be? These people gave well past what they could afford. There is no condemnation from Paul over their actions. Paul just rejoiced that these people gave with such freedom and joy. I want to have a giving heart like that.
In verse 4, the Macedonians also begged for the opportunity to give. Apparently somebody had to stop them from giving away all that they had. How can this be? Something about the change that God made in the lives of the Macedonians made them feel keenly the desire to bless God’s people who were in hardship, even though the Macedonians were themselves not at all wealthy. I want to have that kind of heart for the people of God.
Christians, we are far too quick to find ways to excuse our lack of generosity. We have far too many ways in which we stop giving before the joy of God actually motivates us further. No, this is not only about dollar bills in the offering plate; instead it is about the heart of the Christian. What might we give of ourselves, our time, our resources—even out of our poverty—for the sake of the people of God, the kingdom of God, the glory of God, the joy of knowing God?