Giving Comes Naturally To Those Given To God
“Since you excel in so many ways – you have so much faith, such gifted speakers, such knowledge, such enthusiasm, and such love for us – now I want you to excel also in this gracious ministry of giving.“ – Vs 7 NLT
I love The Message paraphrase of this verse: “You do so well in so many things – you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us – now, do your best in this, too.” Paul was encouraging the Corinthian believers to follow the example of their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in the churches in Macedonia. “Though they have been going through much trouble and hard times, their wonderful joy and deep poverty have 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” (Vs 2-3 NLT). In spite of difficult circumstances and financial tough times, these people were giving sacrificially, above and beyond even their ability to give. They had taken up a collection for the believers in Jerusalem who were also undergoing persecution and financial difficulty. They could have easily opted out and excused themselves from giving, but instead they excelled at it! So much so, that Paul used them as examples to the believers in Corinth.
The Corinthians believers excelled at a lot of things: faith, speaking, knowledge, enthusiasm, and love. But they were obviously slacking in their practice of grace giving. It would seem that they had yet to support Paul in any of his missionary endeavors. And now that he was raising money to take back to the church in Jerusalem, they had yet to contribute to that either. It would seem, that to Paul, the gracious giving of their finances to help support and encourage other believers was just as important as any other acts of faith or service they may accomplish. Look at what Paul says about them. He says, ” They begged us again and again for the gracious privilege of sharing in the gift for the Christians in Jerusalem” (Vs 4 NLT). They begged us again and again. They pleaded with Paul to take the money they had raised for the Jerusalem church. Their giving was a natural outflow of their relationship with God. “This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives” (Vs 5 MSG). Giving came naturally to them because they were given to God. They were sold out to God for His use and His will. So when God laid it on their heart to help their fellow believers by giving, they could not resist. They HAD to give.
What a convicting chapter this is. How many times have I failed to give because I didn’t think I could afford to give. Or how many times have I given, but only what I could afford to give. No sacrifice. No pain. These people weren’t giving out of their abundance, but out of their need. They were giving to others what they legitimately needed for their own existence. And they did it willingly! In doing so, they were following their Savior’s example. “You know how full of love and kindness our Lord Jesus Christ was. Though he was very rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich” (Vs 9 NLT). It reminds me of Paul’s words in Philippians chapter two:
“Your attitude should be the same that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not demand and cling to his rights as God. He made himself nothing; he took the humble position of a slave and appeared in human form. And in human form he obediently humbled himself even further by dying a criminal’s death on a cross” (Philippians 2:5-9 NLT).
Jesus excelled at giving. So should we. Jesus gave all He had. So should we. Jesus gave till it hurt. So should we. Jesus gave willingly and sacrificially. So should I.
Father, forgive me for my selfishness. Thank You for this reminder to give. Not reluctantly, but willingly and sacrificially. But I know it will only happen as I give myself to You completely. Selfishness is just a reminder of my own self-centeredness. It reveals that I am not as sold out to You as I should be. If I truly belong to You, then all I have belongs to You. Then giving it away to others becomes not only easy, but enjoyable. May that be increasingly more the case in my life – with Your help. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men