Out of the most 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… (2 Corinthians 8:2,3).
I was reviewing the contents of her piggy-bank with my granddaughter.
And I discovered it’s hard to teach comparative monetary value to a 3-year-old. To her, the various coins had identical value. And all the coins were more interesting than the $20 bill.
While the first century Corinthians understood monetary value, the apostle Paul was tasked with teaching them the value – and privilege – of giving.
When he wanted an illustration of sharing financial and material resources to further the Lord’s work and support His people, Paul selected a surprising example.
We often think of wealthy people who have made significant contributions to build great churches, or make large donations to Christian ministries.
But to show how God expects New Testament believers to give, Paul used an example of people who were dirt poor.
The Macedonian believers were in circumstances described as “most severe trial” and “extreme poverty”.
But because of their love for the Lord, their attitude in giving to Him was characterized by joy and rich generosity – an example we continue to learn from 20 centuries later!
Paul was clearly impressed: “they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And 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” (2 Corinthians 8:4,5).
When it comes to giving to the Lord, no matter what our economic situation, Christ-followers are called to recognize that everything we have comes from His hand.
And so giving back to Him is a privilege. It’s also a responsibility.
And contributing out of what the Lord has entrusted to us is a way to express our love to the Lord Jesus.
Takeaway: Is my giving to the Lord characterized by generosity and joy? Do I see the opportunity to financially support Christian ministry as a privilege, as giving back to Him what He has first entrusted to me?