Begging to Give, Really?
The Bible is filled with stories of everyday people who experience and do amazing things, which is one reason I enjoy studying the Bible. What must it have been like for Moses to stand at the Red Sea with the Egyptians pursuing, with the people of the exodus in a panic, and then see God deliver? What would it be like to have the faith of David as he faced the giant on an ancient battlefield and watch that giant fall to the ground? What would it have felt like to see the friend you grew to love, die wrongly on the cross, be placed in a grave, only to discover that the tomb is empty, and you are speaking and eating with the one who occupied that tomb? These stores are not only fun to read, but they were recorded to instruct, warn, exhort, and encourage us.
In 2 Corinthians 8:1-6 there is one such story about the churches in Macedonia. They were a group of churches made up of mostly new believers from the cities of Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. From the beginning of their existence these churches faced ill-treatment and persecution from their own countrymen. Despite this mistreatment, they became examples to believers everywhere in the Roman world because of their testimony and their joy from the Holy Spirit. They also excelled at giving, so much so, that Paul holds them up as an example of giving that cheers God’s heart. Paul records that their abundant joy was greater than both their deep poverty and their great ordeal of affliction, such that they begged with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints in Jerusalem. The result was a wealth of liberality from the Macedonian churches. Stop and look at the superlatives (bolded words) Paul uses in describing the Macedonia gift. These churches excelled at giving.
Let me suggest three things God would have us learn about giving like the Macedonian churches:
- The grace of God is being delivered through these churches. This is remarkable. If God wants to meet a need He certainly does not have to use any church or effort of man (1 Chronicles 29:14). The manna in the wilderness was provided directly by God to His people. Here God gives the churches the privilege of helping meet the needs of the believers at Jerusalem. His grace was flowing through the Macedonian churches to the believers at Jerusalem.
- Giving does not have to be constrained by our circumstances. If anyone had a reason to bow out of the gift giving, the Macedonian churches had that reason. They were poverty stricken and persecuted because of their faith in and obedience to Christ. Yet, their joy led them to participate in this gracious work and to give beyond their ability.
- Giving is an opportunity to express God’s work in our life. The joy of the Macedonians led them to beg for the favor of participation in the support of the saints in Jerusalem. They were eager to give as an expression of their joy.
In short, the Macedonian churches excelled at giving!
As we give realize, that it is a privilege to participate with God in the delivery of His grace, that our giving does not have to be constrained by our circumstances, and that it is an expression of God’s work in our lives.
Let’s be a church who excels at giving.