Real Christianity and Giving 2 Corinthians 8:1-9
The Church at Macedonia
They were poor. The Roman Empire had depleted the resources of Northern Greece… They sued the resources of the mines and timber, took the wealth of gold and silver mining. They even took the peoples properties. All the profits were used to build a greater conquering army and the city of Rome. They reduced the Macedonian region to great poverty. The Church there became a great model of absolute surrender to the person of Christ.
The Corinthian Church
They were quite rich. They had begun to have a collection for the impoverished believers 1 year before but did not complete it. They had many spiritual gifts, much wealth but were in a moral doctrinal and philosophical mess. This great city had a church filled with all sorts of people- rich and poor. The church had divisions and false teachers who assaulted the character of Paul. They stopped giving. Grace was on short supply.
Grace and Giving
Vs. 1 In spite of their situation the Macedonian s was generous. They were aware of Gods wonderful provisions to them and were willing to share it. Because they received much from God they gave sacrificially.
Giving Amid Affliction, Joy and Poverty
- Affliction – There was severe affliction as well as extreme persecution. They were crushed by life and put under severe pressure because they were Christians. They lived in an impossible situation and in the midst of it all they gave. You may be going through a tough time, a tie of affliction don’t let that stop you from blessing others.
- They gave with joy. They did not give out of guilt or human pressure. They did not give because they thought God would punish them if they didn’t. They did not give because the missionary showed theme picture of starving people or sick children. They gave because they had received the grace of God and Christ’s love in their hearts. Paul speaks of the abundance (overflowing, surplus) of joy. Their joy was greater than their pain. They rose above the circumstances.
- They gave out of their deep poverty. They were poor and harassed by others, yet they gave with “liberality” generously and with sincerity. They were selfless and sacrificial in their living.
The Gave Freely
Vs. 3 They gave beyond their ability and gave of their own accord- generous though poor. There was no cohersion, no pressure, no emotional appeals, no gimmicks, no trying to bribe God, no competitive giving. They did not give to earn point with God or the congregation, or the preacher. God spoke deep into their souls by grace and they responded by grace. We have to ask the question why you give. Is it because you have grasped the deep sacrificial love of Christ?
The Privilege of Giving
Vs. 4 “They “implored” (begged) us with much urgency”. These poor people were coming and begging Paul and asked him not to deny them the blessing and joy of giving. “They gave beyond their ability” They gave to support the church, the work of God, the gospel. Paul may have felt awkward to take an offering from them. He saw their need and poverty. “that we should receive the gift” to have fellowship of ministering to the saints.” Real giving came from their hearts, God had touched them deeply with His grace and they responded to others the same way. What an example to us, they had so little they gave so much. God is teaching us to be generous and sacrificial and trust him with our future. God has given us all things to enjoy, He Is not stingy. God wants you first to care for your own family and their needs, if we don’t Paul says we are worse than an infidel. There is nothing wrong in saving for the future that is being a wise steward but don’t forget Gods portion. After all it all belongs to him, use it wisely. He does not ask you to do without the necessities or comforts of life so long as you have a heart like the Macedonian and respond when he touches your heart.
Fist- Give Yourself – Total Sacrifice and Surrender
Vs. 5 “They first gave themselves to the Lord.” That is the first priority-giving yourself, not money. He wants your heart, you are more important to him than money. They were totally committed, dedicated as servants and ambassadors of the Lord. They were not playing at Christianity, they were real, genuine, and they gave their lives to Christ’s cause. They surrendered and abandoned themselves to Christ. We need to catch the same spirit. This wasn’t done because of appeals, by programs, by impressive statements. It was done and is done when you see the loving, sacrificial hear of God. It is done when the Holy Spirit catches fire to the Word of God in your heart. This is real living, this is a genuine believer. Paul gives us the core of Christian living and giving. They first loved God and their lives were not their own. They gave because they saw the immensity of Calvary. They first loved God not their own lives and possessions. What a spirit! What an attitude of heart!. They gave all. It wont do any good to give your possessions and money unless you first give yourself. You are deluded if you give anything other than your life, whether money or things. There is nothing wrong in giving money, we should do that, it is commendable but give yourself first, surrender to Him.
What Were The Corinthians to Do?
Vs 6. They were challenges d to give with the right motives and we have to take up the same challenge. They were urged to keep their promise from the year before. Did you ever make a promise to God? If so keep it. They had listened to false accusations, rumours and lies about Paul and had stopped giving. However when Titus returned to them and spoke to them they started giving them again. Paul had not pressured or manipulated them. The principle of giving was not money or material things but it was invisible, immaterial, it was a matter of the heart and soul.
Abounding in Everything
Vs 7. “In faith” they believed God and his word. They believed God would supply their needs. “utterance and knowledge” the spoken word and written word. Divine viewpoint not human viewpoint. “And your love” not emotional sentimentality but real, informed love for God. The Corinthians had many spiritual gifts but they needed sacrificial love. “And Paul reminding them that the test of love is the key for giving.
Giving is Voluntary
Vs 8. Paul is not laying down the law nor is he demanding they match the Macedonian giving. The Corinthians could prove how authentic, how genuine, they were by comparing their love with the diligence of others. There giving had to be sincere, genuine and sacrificial. Giving had to be voluntary and flow out of a heart first dedicated to God.
Christ the Greatest Example of Giving
Vs 9. a/ “Though he was rich” Paul now gives us the reason why the church gave so willingly and sacrificially. Christ was the eternal God who is always wealthy. He is incomparable in wealth. Matchless in giving, unique in an other worldly love, a superior love. What kind of love is this , ? It is an alien love, one form outside humanity but given to humanity by Him. He breathed out and the whole universe came into being. He is profound! He upholds it all by the Word of His power. He constructed every star, it is all His. He measured space. He put together the complex universe and galaxies. His name is over it all (Col. 1:16-17). The angels saw the immensity of His person and followed Him to the outer ring of the earth to sing His praises “Glory to God in the highest”. The 24 elders sing His praise around the throne of heaven (Rev. 4:11).
b/ “Yet for our sakes He became poor” . It was or you and I that he came to the point of poverty. O how the angels wondered when He stood up in the courts of heaven and announced He was to a take a journey to the evil, dirty, sin infested earth. He was to leave the splendour of heaven were holy angels worshipped him and come to earth were men would abuse Him. Can you see Him preparing for HIs journey, . ? He was going to strip himself of His glory. What an amazing staggering announcement. He became poor, was born in a manger without a fanfare, to a peasant woman. He worked as a carpenters shop, what a change, making furniture instead of stars. He who formed the mountains, carved the depth of the oceans, was born a helpless human. He was despised and rejected and cursed, beaten and crucified as a convict. Why? Paul says “for your sakes.” He was heavens missionary come on a mission to save sinners, those without hope. This is self-surrender and the Macedonians knew it. It is no wonder Paul could say, I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ.” He did not think of his life, or hold his reputation dear. When God gets your heart he gets your life, your family, your money, your home, everything.
c/ “that through His poverty might become rich.” When Christ gave Himself on the cross you were the recipient of His great love, grace and mercy. When you put your trust in Him you became a joint heir with Him. You became a spiritual billionaire. Paul said, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ (Eph. 1:3). He has given us all the resources we need to live the Christian life. We have redemption, adoption, forgiveness, of sins according to His riches (Eph. 1:8). We have power and victory, we have a destiny, we have so much, and it all I because He became poor. No wonder Paul could say, “But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:19). Now believer, you can go out with confidence and live for Him, serve Him.