Many years ago, I was the personal assistant for a couple in vocational ministry. As part of my job, I helped them prepare meals and baked goods, wrap thoughtfully chosen gifts, and cut fresh flowers from their garden—all of which they kept at the ready to give to anyone who could be blessed by them. This amazing couple taught me much about preparing one’s heart to give well in advance of the opportunity to give. Their readiness and desire to serve others was matched by their actions, as they weekly delivered meals, gifts, and flowers to those who most needed it.
- What is your heart attitude toward giving? How do your actions reflect your attitude?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-15 (ESV)
8:1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
(Today’s questions focus on verses 1-8.)
- Paul cited the Macedonian Christians’ giving as an example for the Corinthians to follow. What had been given to the Macedonians (vs. 1)? What situation were they in (vs. 2)?
- What were the different aspects of their giving (vss. 2-4)? How does your attitude toward giving compare to theirs?
- Note Paul’s observation of the Macedonians’ heart attitude in verse 5. What does it mean to give oneself first to God and then, by God’s will, to others?
- What phrase did Paul use to describe giving (vs. 6)? What was Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians (vs. 7)?
- What does it look like for you to “excel in this act of grace” today?
RESPOND TO GOD
The Corinthian church needed necessary motivation to finish their monetary collection for Christians living in Jerusalem. Speaking honestly about the Macedonians’ approach to giving, Paul gave the Corinthians a truly admirable example to follow. We, too, can embrace the Macedonians’ attitude toward giving as we choose to generously, joyfully, and voluntarily participate in this “act of grace,” regardless of how much or little we have to give.
- Thank God for his grace given to you, and for the honor of giving to those in need.
- Prayerfully prepare your heart, in advance, to be a sacrificial giver and to excel in the act of giving.