Summary: If you want to have a powerful offering give yourself first to God.
GAVE THEMSELVES FIRST TO THE LORD
2 Cor 8:1 And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 Cor 8:2 Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.
2 Cor 8:3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 2 Cor 8:4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 2 Cor 8:5 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will.
The context of this text is that Paul was collecting an offering to meet the needs of the Jerusalem church. It’s a powerful text. We can’t help but be moved by the words (, severe trial, overflowing joy, extreme poverty, rich generosity, beyond their ability, entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded). How were they able to have such a spirit about giving?
PT 1: THEY GAVE THEMSELVES FIRST TO GOD
This is the key:
They gave themselves first to the Lord. What does this mean? This giving of themselves first to God. It means they offered themselves first to God and I believe that the reason that their offering was so great was because they themselves were an offering. In all of our giving we need to imitate the heart of these saints and first let’s give ourselves an as offering to God.
Let’s take a look at some scriptures and learn what God taught His people in the Old Testament about offerings.
There were many offerings described in the scriptures. Burnt offerings, fellowship offerings, sin offerings, guilt offerings and each had their purpose but whatever was offered to the Lord had to be the best.
(Lev 1:10 NIV) "’If the offering is a burnt offering from the flock, from either the sheep or the goats, he is to offer a male without defect.
(Lev 2:1 NIV) "’When someone brings a grain offering to the LORD, his offering is to be of fine flour. He is to pour oil on it, put incense on it
(Lev 3:1 NIV) "’If someone’s offering is a fellowship offering, and he offers an animal from the herd, whether male or female, he is to present before the LORD an animal without defect.
(Lev 6:17 NIV) It must not be baked with yeast; I have given it as their share of the offerings made to me by fire. Like the sin offering and the guilt offering, it is most holy.
(Lev 22:21 NIV) When anyone brings from the herd or flock a fellowship offering to the LORD to fulfill a special vow or as a freewill offering, it must be without defect or blemish to be acceptable.
These offerings sacrificed to God in the way God described would be a fragrant offering, an aroma pleasing to God, an acceptable sacrifice, a sacrifice that is most holy to the Lord.
Now it was not the people who came up with the standard of how these offerings were to be done. It was God Himself. God was teaching His people how to honor Him. He was teaching His people how to have an acceptable sacrifice, one that was pleasing, great and holy in His presence.