2 Corinthians 8:1-7

There are times when we need to communicate good news to fellow Christians so that it will be an example and an encouragement to them. Let’s learn to tell each other true stories that will help to promote godliness. Paul had something to tell the Corinthians about the ”grace of giving”. Giving is a mark of God’s grace (1). It is a sure sign that He is at work. Wherever there is a work of God you find generosity of heart and action among God’s people. As the Baptist pastor, William Still , said when there is a deep work of the Word and the Spirit in a local church, the people of God ”will delve deeper into their pockets without anyone telling them, and the offerings will swell, and the question on everyone’s heart and mind will be: Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” Letters of William Still, p.77. In (2; see Luke 21:4) you find a combination of ideas that you would not expect to see hanging out together: ”severe trial…extreme poverty…overflowing joy…rich generosity.” It undoubtedly took ”the grace that God has given” (1; see also 6, 7) to bring about such an outcome. ”Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor.” The Message. This giving was supernatural and miraculous. It certainly was an expression of God’s grace. They gave more than they could afford (3). No wonder Paul wanted the Corinthians to hear about them. He wanted to spur them on to ”love and good deeds.” (Hebrews 10:24). 2 Corinthians chapters 8 and 9 deal with the offering Paul was taking for the needy believers in Judea. The Corinthian church had signed up to help, but they had been dragging their feet (6, 7). Paul used this powerful (and true) ‘sermon illustration’ in order to re-motivate them. We can all be challenged and inspired by hearing about good things other Christians are doing, and we regularly need to be.

How we need to see giving as a ”privilege” (4). F.B. Meyer suggests one reason why Christians don’t give as they should is due to a mistrust of God, and a fear that one day the supplies may run dry. And then what? ”Probably there is no greater test of our true religion than our behaviour in giving. How few, comparatively, give in proportion to their income! How few give systematically! How few have learnt the joy and luxury of giving, so that they abound therein!” Great verses through the Bible, p428.
The key to becoming a generous believer is self-surrender to the Lord Jesus. Put yourself in the offering bag! Stand on the collection plate!! You won’t give your substance if you don’t first give yourself (5). If you’ve responded as you should to the Lordship of Jesus, you will see that everything you have is His, and you will want to use it as He directs. ”What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives.” The Message. ”Pray day and night that you may abound in this grace also; and then, in faith that God is answering your prayer, begin to do violence to your churlish, niggard nature. What though it protest – Give!” F.B.Meyer: Great verses through the Bible, p.429.

Prayer: Lord help me to slay everything that belongs to my old nature, including the fear of lack, and the selfish desire to grip tightly to what isn’t mine.