2 Corinthians 8
In contrasting the attitudes and involvement in Giving to the poor Paul was pointing out to the Corinthian believers that the Macedonian’s were following the example of Jesus. That meant, that the Corinthians were not. That brought to the table the confession and declaration of Love for God and Paul asked them to demonstrate that love tangibly in Giving and fulfilling their commitment and promise. Grace Giving is an Evidence of Love. It shows our love for, the Lord, His servants, and those in need. It is an expression of the heart and character of Jesus!
The giving of the Macedonian believers was sacrificial. (v.9). In that way, they were ‘rich’, but Rich in Jesus not in the natural. Jesus, the eternal Son of God, the Savior is rich in His person, possessions because He is King of Kings and Lord of Lords. He owns it all. However, the Bible reveals that in spite of that position and condition, He “became” poor that we might be made rich!
I want to call your attention to the tense of the verb because it indicates that it is in His Incarnation, His birth at Bethlehem is what is being referred to. Jesus united Himself to mankind and took upon Himself a human body. He left the Throne to become a servant. He laid aside all His possessions so that He did not even have a place to lay His head. His ultimate experience of poverty was when He was made sin for us on the Cross. Hell is Eternal Spiritual Poverty, and on the Cross, Jesus became the poorest of the poor.
Why did Jesus do that? He did it so that we could become rich. That suggests that before we came to Him, we were bankrupt. But now, we share in all His riches. We are now the Children of God and Heirs of God, Joint heirs with Jesus. (Romans 8:17). With that in mind, how can we refuse to give to others? He became poor to make us rich. Can we not follow His example, as did the Macedonian churches, who out of their deep poverty abounded in liberality?
- Grace Giving Occurs When We Give Willingly. (vv.10-22).
There is a difference between Promise and Performance. The Corinthians boasted to Titus a year earlier, that they would share in the offering. (v.6). But they had not kept their promise. In verses 10-12 we see the word “willingness” and that is the emphasis. Grace Giving must come from the heart.
In my personal experience in Christian ministry, I have encountered many offering appeals. I have listened to some of the most pathetic tales about unbelievable needs. I have forced myself to laugh at old jokes which were supposed to make it easier for me to part with my money. I have been scolded, shamed, and almost threatened if I did not give. I have to confess that none of those approaches stirred me to give more than I had planned. In fact, more than once, I gave less because I became disgusted with the worldly approaches employed.
It is needful that we be careful not to confuse ‘willing’ with ‘doing,’ because the two must go together. If the ‘willing’ is sincere in doing the Will of God, there will be a corresponding ‘doing.’ Paul did not say that being ‘willing’ was a substitute for ‘doing.’ Quite the contrary. If our Giving is motivated by Grace, we will give willingly and not because we are forced to or expected to.
I want us to consider something that is often missed. God see the ‘Heart Gift’ and not just the ‘Hand Gift.’ If the heart wanted to give more but was truly unable, God sees it and records it accordingly. Whereas, if the hand gives more than the heart wants to give, God sees it and records it accordingly. Therefore, no matter how large the ‘Hand Gift’ is God records only what was in our hearts.
Let me give this illustration and hopefully, it will resonate. I heard of a man who was leaving on a business trip and his wife reminded him, before Church, that they needed some ‘extra money’ for household expenses. Just before the offering, he slipped some money into her hand and she, thinking it was their weekly offering for the church, put it all in the offering plate. It was the expense money for the week.
The man said, “Oh, well, we gave it all to the LORD and He keeps records.” The pastor asked, “How much did you intend to give?” The man gave him a number and the pastor said, “then that’s what God recorded because He saw the intent of the heart.” God sees not just the portion but the proportion. If we could have given more but did not, God sees it. If we wanted to give more but could not, God sees it. When we give “willingly”, according to what we have we are practicing Grace Giving.
- Grace Giving Occurs When We Give by Faith. (vv.13-24).
Grace Giving is an incredibly exciting adventure. When we learn to give by Grace through Faith, we will experience some incredible blessings from the LORD. We experience a liberation that can come in no other manner. It frees us from being under the control of our possessions to controlling them. We develop a new set of values and priorities.
We no longer measure our lives or other people based on money or possessions. If money is the best test of success, then Jesus was an abject failure, because He gave all His away. Grace Giving enriches us as we enrich others. Grace giving enables us to be more like Jesus.
The ultimate question becomes, “Have We Discovered the Thrill of Grace Giving?
God bless you on your new journey in Jesus and Grace.