"True understanding of sacrificial brotherly love is letting him take the bathroom first." – George Q. Hauser
The church in Corinth was quite wealthy. Okay, so they were pretty loaded. The church in Jerusalem was rather poor to start with and for several years, they were also under a severe famine. Bottom line? Many in Jerusalem were starving to death. Paul asked some of the wealthy churches to donate money. The church in Corinth said, "Absolutely!" But then, they never did. Paul had some words for them:
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord's people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. – 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
He uses the Macedonians as an example to show Corinth what giving is like. What did the Macedonians do?
- They gave themselves first to the Lord. They made themselves and their resources available to Jesus and placed His desires before their own.
- They followed through and they gave as the Spirit led them to do.
Part of the "zing" in Paul's message stems from the fact that the Macedonians were an extraordinarily poor church, but God had given them grace, and despite their poverty, they took an offering to contribute. This, my friend, is a beautiful summary of new covenant giving. It is an act of grace, born out of authentic love, expecting nothing in return (just like God's gifts to us).
It's what I'll call a "sibling blessing." The Holy Spirit moves us to give and empowers us to do so. As a result, our brothers and sisters in Christ in need are provided for. In His grace, we get majorly blessed too. There's just nothing like living in sync with God.
Oh Lord, like the Corinthians, I am often bound up in my giving. I want to be free to give, in grace, like the Macedonians! Right here, right now, today, I give myself and everything in my possession back to You. I will follow the lead of Your Spirit to give where You wish! Amen.
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