“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 NLT
The churches in Macedonia (area of modern Greece) were under severe persecution and were also suffering under harsh economic conditions. Although this was the case, their generosity was not affected. Their love for God and their fellow believers was evidenced by their desire to give of their meager resources to assist the suffering Christians in Jerusalem who were enduring very hard times. The Jerusalem church was recognized as the epicenter of Christianity among all the churches. To be able to help the Jerusalem saints was an honor. No matter how difficult it was for the Macedonian believers, they knew that they were connected to these believers as part of God's family. The original Greek language clearly states that the Macedonian believers were "rock bottom" poor. They didn't even have sufficient means for themselves yet they were more concerned about other believers who were suffering more than themselves.
Earlier, this morning, I read a story concerning Charles Spurgeon that, I thought, was very applicable to this passage. Charles Spurgeon was asked to come speak at a rural church to help raise funds to pay off a debt. The man requesting his coming was a wealthy man that suggested he stay at either his country home, town home, or seaside home. Charles Spurgeon replied to the man that he should sell one of the properties and pay the debt himself.
In America, we are blessed in so many ways. Even the poorest in this country are blessed more than they realize. The sad thing is that most of us are blessed more than we truly realize. We live in homes with electricity, we have running water, indoor restrooms, heat and air conditioning, we drive automobiles (usually more than one), we have grocery stores on almost every corner, and much more. With this being the case, you would think that we would be more generous than we are, especially to God and His church. We say things like "I can't afford to give a tithe". How can we say such a thing when we treat ourselves with such luxuries.
No matter how poor the Macedonians were, the fact is simply this: They gave themselves to God. They gave because they loved God. They had experienced God's grace in salvation and they wanted to share God's grace in giving. When you give yourself to God, everything else will come along with you, including your giving.
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, thank you for blessing me so bountifully. Help me share this grace by giving to Your Church and Your people.
Rev. Curtis Norris