Summary: 5 reason we give. From the poorest church to the biggest heart.
True Giving Text: II Corinthians 8:1-9
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NLT1 Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. 2 They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
3 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but also far more. And they did it of their own free will. 4 They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. 5 They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. 6 So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. 7 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. 8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches. 9 You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have.
Paul turns his attention to the collection for the Jerusalem church. This offering was intended to aid the poverty-stricken saints in the holy city of Jerusalem. Paul hoped this gift from Gentile congregations to the Jewish church would cement relations between the two groups. The Churches in Macedonia included the church of Philippi, which we know from Acts and Philippians was being tested by troubles and was very poor. Yet they were generous in sending gifts to Paul and in supporting the collection.
In verse 7 Paul tells the Corinthians “see that you also excel in the grace of giving.”
Then he challenges them with the example of the givers in Macedonia. Paul reports on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in those churches.
Listen to TM II Corinthians 8: 1-4 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.
Here are several lessons to be learned through these verses: #1. First they gave themselves to the Lord! (Before a farmer can plant seed in the ground he has to believe in reaping.)
If Jesus isn’t first resentment will come-in and take over whatever you do! Matthew 6:33 NLT Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.
#2 They understood that everything they possessed was through God’s grace alone. (A farmer has to believe that there is more for him as he sows.)
Paul said that the way he knew the Macedonians had given themselves to the Lord, was that they begged him for the offering plate. Wow!
#3. Their giving was regulated and motivated by gratitude for what Christ had done. (A good farmer is always grateful for his harvest!)
II Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.
#4. The weren’t “re-givers.” Some people recycle gifts they don’t want. They re-gift them, and re-wrap them!
(A farmer will always place his best seed back in the ground!)
II Cor. 8:7-8 Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. 8 I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.