Summary: This is a message taken from the author’s book entitled, "Christian Stewardship".
INTRODUCTION: This portion of Scripture describes the grace giver. The grace giver gives with Christ Jesus in mind. Every gift that Christ Jesus has given us has been a gift of Grace. We deserve nothing any better. Nothing that He gave us did we deserve. When we get to the place that we give as Jesus did, then we certainly are doing well?
The grace giver also gives with heaven in mind. When one has heaven in mind, it will affect his attitude towards the things of the earth. The giver will not at all mind turning lose the earthly to gain the heavenly.
In this study, may we look at the character of the grace giver; then, let us look at the charity of the grace giver. Thirdly, let us look at the continuing of the grace giver.
I. THE CHARACTER OF THE GRACE GIVER. (Vv. 1-6).
Paul is complementing the giving practices of the Macedonians as he encourages the Corinthians to give. The northern part of Greece was called Macedonia, the southern part was called Achaia; Corinth was in Achaia. The Macedonians who were the northern neighbors of Corinth were very generous in their giving to the ministries that Paul was involved in. They gave this way though they were very poor. The Lord gives this as an example in His Word to show that a person does not have to be wealthy to exercise faith promise giving.
A. They Gave Out Of Their Poverty. (Vv. 1-2a).
The poverty of the Macedonians is confirmed historically after the land of Alexander the Great was conquered by the Romans. This land was several hundred years earlier the home of Alexander the Great, with all of its wealth. During the time of Paul a people wealthier than what they were in Alexander’s day occupied it. But their wealth was of a different kind. It had a people who were materially poor, but who were rich in God’s grace.
Verse number two describes this kind of giving: "How that in a great trial of afflictions the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality".
It is wonderful that the church at Macedonia did not allow their afflictions to affect in a negative way their giving.
B. They Gave With A Liberality. (V. 2b).
The word "liberality" means openhearted generosity. The described generosity here is of the sacrificial kind. It was with joy that they made their gifts unto the Lord; they did it sacrificially. Paul witnessed this willingness, by Macedonia in their giving in the manner in which they did.
Paul gave this church as an example to challenge the church at Corinth to give; we too should also give. Our giving should not be determined by our bank accounts, but by God?s riches in glory. He has far more than we have. This becomes the basis of "Faith Promise Giving". This also is the highest level of giving. It is given prayerfully believing that God is directing your giving, while trusting God to provide the gift.
C. They Gave Beyond Their Ability. (Vv. 3-4).
This was not careless giving, it was faith giving. The Macedonia Church did not know exactly where their gifts were going to come from, but they would know Whom the gifts were coming from. As we support the ministries of the Bible Baptist Church, we shall do it as a faith ministry. To operate by faith may have the appearances of doing so foolishly. It is as someone said, "You never test the resources of God until you attempt the impossible". Many modern day testimonies abound as to the way God blesses when one gives by faith.
The story of the poor widow illustrates sacrificial giving. She gave everything that she owned. She was beggarly poor. God used her as an example of total sacrifice, as illustrated in Mark 12.
12:41 And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much.
12:42 And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing.
12:43 And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury:
12:44 For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.
D. They Gave Very Unselfishly. (Vv. 5-6).
The Macedonians "first gave their own selves to the Lord," First things first; God wants you first. Do just as the Macedonians did. When a person absolutely gives himself to the Lord, then God has all that that one has including all of his potential. Grace giving is a kind of giving that must require God for it to truly be grace giving. God by His Spirit directs the gift. It is the highest form of unselfish giving. It is a kind of giving that surrenders the gift with absolutely no strings attached. It is a kind of giving that can give even if the gift is undeserved. After all, when Christ gave Himself to us, not one of us deserved it. God gave Himself proving that His love is an unselfish love. Grace giving requires the same kind of love. In our next section, we will consider the love or the CHARITY of the grace giver.