Excel in the grace of giving
This exhortation by the Apostle Paul, appealing to the example of the Macedonian church, was aimed at encouraging the Corinthians believers in Christ Jesus to Give.
He deliberately cited the generosity of the Macedonian church to stir up the Corinthians, hoping that their generosity will match up with their excellence in other spiritual gifts.
GIVING is the bringing of a physical element to God by a worshipper to express devotion – acknowledging Him as the owner and giver; “… a man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven” (John 3:27, NKJV).
If all Christians could regard themselves as stewards or trustees to God, we would not be holding back what belongs to God. We would give generously.
GIVING is an essential part/aspect of our worship and devotion to God. As Abraham approached the place appointed by God for Isaac to be sacrificed to Him as a gift, he told his servants to wait while he and the son goes to worship. To Abraham, the sacrifice of Isaac to God was an expression of WORSHIP and DEVOTION to GOD.
Now, it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “ Abraham” and he said “here I am” then He said, “take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love and go the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains which I shall tell you” so Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and took two of his young men with him and Isaac his son: and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
Then on the third day Abraham lifted his eyes and saw the place afar off. And Abraham said to his young men “stay here with the donkey; the lad and I with go yonder and worship, and we will come back to you” (Gen. 22:1 – 5 NKJV).
Dearly beloved, unless GIVING becomes an expression of worship and devotion, you will continue to struggle in the place of GIVING.
GIVING is an expression of LOVE. God gave to express His love for mankind – “for God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son…” (John 3:16 TLB)
Friends, except you genuinely love, GIVING will be difficult and a struggle.
GIVING is an expression of God’s grace. In other words, it is an act of God’s grace at work in the heart of a Christian.
The Macedonian church gave in response to the grace of God at work in their heart – “now I want to tell you what God in His grace has done for the churches in Macedonia. Though they have been going through much troubles and hard times, they have mixed their wonderful joy with their deep poverty, and the result has been an overflow of giving to others. They gave not only what they could afford but far more; and I can testify that they did it because they wanted to and not because of nagging on my part. They begged us to take the money so they could share in the joy of helping the Christians in Jerusalem” (2 Corinthians 8:1 – 4, TLB).
Friends, GIVING is the Christian lifestyle – “And I am a constant example to you in helping the poor; for I remembered the words of the Lord Jesus, “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 30: 35; TLB).
When GIVING is not forced but done cheerfully, amazing blessings always ultimately follow. There is therefore no doubt that God usually deals with us according to our attitude to GIVING – “But remember this – if you give little, you will get little.
A farmer who plants just few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much. Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for cheerful givers are the ones God prizes” (2 Corinthians 9:6 – 7, TLB).
Rev. Idorenyin James, Congregational Pastor, United Evangelical Church (Founded as Qua Iboe Church), Surulere, Lagos