Hints from the books of Acts, Romans, 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians tell us that there was great human need on the part of the Christians in the Church of Jerusalem. Natural disaster (famine) and human persecution necessitated a “first century fundraising effort” to alleviate the suffering of these dear brothers and sisters in Christ. Apparently, a collection had begun, about a year before today’s text was written, but the effort had waned and needed to be “revitalized” by Paul’s letter to the Corinthian Church. Similar collections were being gathered in Galatia, Asia, Achaia and Macedonia.
As an encouragement to the Corinthians, Paul pointed to the truly remarkable outpouring of the Macedonians! “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. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.” (2 Corinthians 8: 2-4) Though they, themselves, were severely tried by their own circumstances, the grace of God – and the recognition that everything they had came from His gracious hand – inspired the Macedonians to give themselves completely to the Lord, to Paul and to Joyful Christian Living and Giving!
Paul complemented the Corinthians on excelling in every way… in their faith, speech, knowledge and in earnest, love for God, for Paul and for the work of ministry. Now, he was challenging them, also, to excel by giving their offerings to the glory of God, and to support their brothers and sisters in their moment of desperate need! The Macedonians had done just exactly that. Now it was time for the Corinthians to “put it all in.”
We have a similar example of incredible, gospel-motivated faith in the poor woman who gave herself – and all that she had (two small coins) – to her Lord through her offering. (See Mark 12: 41 and Luke 21: 1) We see the perfect example, of course, in our Savior… “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8: 9)
Though we may feel ourselves pressed and afflicted by vocational, financial, physical, relational or emotional trials, they need not become spiritual roadblocks which keep us from Joyful Christian Living and Giving! They Macedonians gave by the grace of God. How about you? Do you “withhold” because you see your glass as “half empty?”
Paul did not command the Corinthians, nor do we command you! We simply “want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” (2 Corinthians 8:8) By the grace of God, we are called to give ourselves completely to the Lord, to the ministry of the gospel and to Joyful Christian Living and Giving! May you know this privilege and great JOY in Jesus!
See you in church THIS weekend!
Blessings in Christ,