Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
The Abundance Of Joyful Giving
They were special people. Not the ordinary sort of folk who worried about how they were going to do what they had to do. To them it was something to do for the glory of God. It is important to know they did not have a lot of give but you would never know it by the way they gave. Isn’t that a contradictory statement? How can people without anything give so much? When the call came to the churches in Macedonia for a need to be met they never hesitated – they gave what was needed. These are people you want to meet.
Giving has always been a test of character. The greed of the world’s possessions has been the cause of wars, strife, murder and destruction of millions of lives. What is mine is mine and giving it to someone else is not an easy thing to do when the heart is selfish and miserly. From the beginning of time God has tested the hearts of men to see how much they love Him and how much they love their fellow man. The example of the Macedonians was not the amount of their giving but the manner of their giving. Their giving was a trial of affliction yet they gave liberally. Giving to them was not a monetary value but a service to the one who gave His all – Jesus Christ.
The heart of the Macedonians was first given to the Lord and anything after that was small change. They gave themselves to the Lord first! That is where it must start. Often we wonder how much we should give and what is an appropriate number. It is not about a number rather an attitude. How can we compare what we have and need to give with what Jesus had and gave at Golgotha? The song says it well – “I gave my life for you; what have you given?” Humbling.
Giving is not about the clanging of money in a plate. It begins in a heart of giving to others in return for what God has given us. We give liberally when we give our time to serve others and encourage the downtrodden. Liberal giving is when we call a neighbor, fix food for a needy person, share the gospel with friends, mow the widows lawn, take a friend to the grocery store, let every person know how important they are – giving our lives to serve others.