Summary: Just as a lot can be told about an individual’s priorities by what and how they give, so a lot can be told about God but what and how He gives.
Understanding God: Motivations and Money
Part 1 of the series: The Grace of Giving: God-Given Principles for Understanding Your Money (2 Corinthians 8-9)
1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5And 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. 6So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Key Verse: 7But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
7But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
When I think about the most elaborate and extravagant gift I’ve ever heard of, one thing stands out far above all the rest. It is the gift of a king. And it is a gift for every one of us. For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son…
You see, God is the first and best giver of all. His gift to us is to make us like himself in every way. Not the least of which is this grace of giving that proves our love.
As we look at our text today, we will see that these Corinthian Christians have made a promise about a gift to help the needy saints in Jerusalem who are suffering from a famine and Paul has taken them seriously. In fact, he told the Macedonians about it and they wanted to join in too. Paul has boasted about the Corinthian church; especially how they were stirred up to get in on the action. . Now, though, there is a problem. The Corinthians have not carried out their promise.
Paul used nine different words to refer to giving but the one he used the most was grace.
Giving is an indication is the divine gift of grace within the human heart.
Paul tells us that there are indications and evidences of giving motivated by grace.
• Week #1: It shows an understanding of God (2 Corinthians 8:1-9)
• Week #2: It shows an understanding of Community (2 Corinthians 8:10 – 9:5)
• Week #3: It shows an understanding of One’s self (2 Corinthians 9:6-15)
I would like you to hear this passage as it is translated in The Message.
Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
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. That’s what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. 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.
I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.