Summary: We show "The Grace of Giving" when: 1) Giving Is Proportionate (2 Cor. 8:3a), 2) Giving Is Sacrificial (2 Cor. 8:3b), 3) Giving Is Voluntary (2 Cor. 8:3c), 4) Giving Is a Privilege, Not an Obligation (2 Cor. 8:4), 5) Giving Is an Act of Worship (2 Cor. 8:
U.S. Republican lawmakers are “playing with fire” by contemplating even a brief debt default as a means to force deeper government spending cuts, an adviser to China’s central bank said this week. (http://business.financialpost.com/2011/06/08/china-warns-u-s-debt-default-idea-is-playing-with-fire/).
The United States has been so generous in contributing to international causes that it finds it hard to say no. As gracious as they often are in their giving, the problem really comes down to a lack of discipline in spending. They are generous yes, but wasteful as well. Their spending lacks a unifying moral focus and their debt level is bankrupting the country.
The church in Jerusalem had more than its share of the poor. Antioch had sent relief at least once (Acts 11:29). The Jerusalem council had asked Paul and Barnabas to remember the poor (Gal. 2:10). On his third missionary journey Paul had determined to raise a fund from the Gentile churches to help relieve the need in Jerusalem. 2 Corinthians 8–9 contain encouragements from Paul for the Corinthians to be liberal in their gifts to this fund. In 2 Corinthians 8:3-8, Paul cited the example of the Macedonians (vv. 1–7) and the example of Christ (vv. 8–15) to encourage them (Paschall, F. H., & Hobbs, H. H. (1972). The teacher’s Bible commentary: A concise, thorough interpretation of the entire Bible designed especially for Sunday School teachers (737). Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers.).
We show "The Grace of Giving" when:
1) Giving Is Proportionate (2 Cor. 8:3a)
2 Corinthians 8:3a For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and (beyond their means, of their own accord), (ESV)
Paul’s use of the phrase "I can testify" (martureô) reveals his firsthand experience of the Macedonians’ generosity, as we saw last week in Phil. 4:15–18. They gave in proportion to what they had, according to their means/ability. Dunamis (means/ability) literally means “power,” or “strength,” and here refers to the Macedonians’ capacity to give.
Quote: Someone once said: "Give according to your income, lest God make your income according to your giving" (Michael P. Green. (2000). 1500 illustrations for biblical preaching (163). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.).
For those in the New Covenant there is no fixed amount or percentage for giving. Instead, giving is to be “according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Cor. 8:12), as “[each person] may prosper” (1 Cor. 16:2). Any fixed amount or percentage would prove sacrificial for some but inconsequential for others.
Illustration: (1847 Quaker Oats)
Henry P. Crowell, contracted tuberculosis when a boy and couldn’t go to school. After hearing a sermon by Dwight L. Moody, young Crowell prayed, “I can’t be a preacher, but I can be a good businessman. God, if You will let me make money, I will use it in Your service.” Under the doctor’s advice Crowell worked outdoors for seven years and regained his health. He then bought the little run-down Quaker Mill at Ravanna, Ohio. Within ten years Quaker Oats was a household word to millions. For over forty years Henry P. Crowell faithfully gave 60 to 70 percent of his income to God’s causes (Tan, P. L. (1996). Encyclopedia of 7700 Illustrations: Signs of the Times. Garland, TX: Bible Communications, Inc.).
We show "The Grace of Giving" when:
2) Giving Is Sacrificial (2 Cor. 8:3b)
2 Corinthians 8:3b (For they gave according to their means, as I can testify), and beyond their means, (of their own accord), (ESV)
The Macedonians gave according to what they had but in proportions that were sacrificial. They had not prospered and given from their surplus. Instead, they gave out of their poverty (Garland, D. E. (2001). Vol. 29: 2 Corinthians (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (368). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.).
Please turn to 1 Chronicles 21
Their giving was beyond what could reasonably be expected of such a poor congregation. Life was difficult for them; as we saw last week in verse 2, they faced extreme poverty and persecution. Yet despite their desperate circumstances, they joyfully gave with no regard for themselves, compelled by the needs of the poor saints in Jerusalem (cf. Heb. 13:16). They believed God’s promise to supply all their needs (Phil. 4:19) and refused to worry about them (Matt. 6:25–34), gladly placing themselves in deeper dependence on Him.
King David expressed what genuine sacrificial giving means:
1 Chronicles 21:18-26 Now the angel of the LORD had commanded Gad to say to David that David should go up and raise an altar to the LORD on the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite. So David went up at Gad’s word, which he had spoken in the name of the LORD. Now Ornan was threshing wheat. He turned and saw the angel, and his four sons who were with him hid themselves. As David came to Ornan, Ornan looked and saw David and went out from the threshing floor and paid homage to David with his face to the ground. And David said to Ornan, "Give me the site of the threshing floor that I may build on it an altar to the LORD--give it to me at its full price--that the plague may be averted from the people." Then Ornan said to David, "Take it, and let my lord the king do what seems good to him. See, I give the oxen for burnt offerings and the threshing sledges for the wood and the wheat for a grain offering; I give it all." But King David said to Ornan, "No, but I will buy them for the full price. I will not take for the LORD what is yours, nor offer burnt offerings that cost me nothing." So David paid Ornan 600 shekels of gold by weight for the site. And David built there an altar to the LORD and presented burnt offerings and peace offerings and called on the LORD, and the LORD answered him with fire from heaven upon the altar of burnt offering. (ESV)