Love and Giving (the churches in Macedonia)
“It is more blessed to give than to receive” – Jesus
The context of this passage is the appeal from the Apostle Paul to the church in Corinth to participate in the relief efforts for the church in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 8:7). A number of factors led to their impoverished condition. Some were ostracized from their jobs and families for their faith. A famine aggravated the situation. The people were heavily taxed. Paul responded by going to various churches and asking for their help. Over a period of five years a considerable amount of Paul’s time was given to this effort.
The believers in Macedonia were commended to the Corinthian church by the Apostle Paul, as examples, for the spirit in which they had given (2 Corinthians 8:1-5). They gave sacrificially (out of their “extreme poverty” and “beyond their means”); joyously (“their abundance of joy”); generously (“in a wealth of generosity”); beggingly (“begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part”); lovingly (“for the relief of the saints”); and in a surprising fashion (“and this not as we expected”).
Theirs was not a reluctant “how much is this going to cost me?” kind of gift. It was a “my brothers in Christ are in serious need, I’ll sacrifice anything I have to help” kind of sacrifice. Their brethren in Jerusalem were hundreds of miles away, but that mattered not to the Macedonians. They had never met these folks, but they responded as they were kin (which they were; Hebrews 13:3). Why did they give as they did? Paul explained, “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us” (2 Corinthians 8:5). They gave as an act of worship. Their hearts and lives and love already belonged to God (2 Corinthians 5:15). They were Spirit-led to give in Christ-like manner that they might assist their Christian brethren.
They gave as Jesus gave. He Himself came as a heaven-sent gift of “inexpressible” worth (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15). He did not merely give out of His riches, He gave and gave and when He had given all that He had in this life, He gave that up too (Philippians 2:5-8). He impoverished Himself so that we might be made rich. “For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). When it comes to the matter of giving His example reigns supreme. Indeed, it is from Him and His sacrifice that all blessings flow!
Such giving is ultimately sourced in Him. It is by His grace in salvation that rebels are transformed into worshippers and created anew with the desire to give. It is by His grace that we are enriched, for “what do (we) have that (we) did not receive” (1 Corinthians 4:7)? It has all come to us by grace—salvation, provision, strength, motivation and ability to serve. By the grace of God we are what we are (1 Corinthians 15:10). Whenever we see that spirit of giving—whether it be of time, energy, or money–we can trace it back to God, who is the greatest giver of them all (James 1:17). Having a heart to give is a part of what it means to love like Jesus!
“It is More Blessed to Give than to Receive” – Jesus
Lord Jesus. How we praise You for Your gracious work by which You impoverished Yourself that we might be made rich in knowing You. We marvel at Your giving heart and ways! Forgive us for our selfish ways in which we are prone to think first of ourselves and not of others. O to be like You! May the Spirit work mightily within us towards that end. You’ve told us that its more blessed to give than to receive. May we ever seek to lay hold of the promised blessings associated with the expenditure of our lives, in Your Name. Knowing that all we have received has come from gracious hand, and every act of love can ultimately be tranced back to You. Amen.