The Wednesday feature of the Worldly Saints blog is a Scriptural meditation whereby I take a verse or passage I have been pondering lately and seek to edify my readers with it’s promises, encouragements, warnings, rebukes, etc.
Last Wednesday, we began looking at the example of financial sacrifice of the Macedonian Church (II Cor 8:1-8). Here we have a biblical paradigm for giving in the church as Paul praises and uses the Macedonian church as an example of what it means to give liberally. Their example gives us 12 motivations for giving to the church.
- Giving in the church is motivated by the grace of God – “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia” (vs. 1).
- Giving in the church transcends difficult circumstances – “that in a great trial of affliction …” (vs. 2a).
- Giving in the church is meant to be a joyful experience – “… the abundance of their joy …” (vs. 2b).
NEXT 4 MOTIVATIONS
4. Giving in the church is not hindered by any type of poverty – “… and their deep poverty abounded …” (vs. 2c).
Giving should never be hindered by circumstances. In other words, if you make $1 per week, you should still give generously. “Poverty” refers to the most severe type of economic deprivation; it’s the type forcing a man to be a beggar. The Macedonians were as poor as beggars. Their poverty had reached the lowest stage.
Not only were they deeply in poverty, but Paul says they “abounded” in it. They were overflowing in poverty. Yet, they put the needs of others before their own. Can we even relate to this type of generosity? I mean we are so much wealthier than most nations in the world; the poorest person at in my church would be a king in many 3rd world countries. Compare yourself to the poor, begging Macedonians who gave despite his persecution and poverty and he did it with joy!
5. Giving in the church is done with integrity – “… in the riches of their liberality” (vs. 2d).
The word “liberality” means “singleness” or “sincerity.” It is the opposite of being a person of duplicity or double-tongued. Their character was laced with integrity, therefore when they gave generously, they truly didn’t think of themselves.
Some will give generously, but do it with no integrity. Not the Macedonians; they truly were not motivated by their own interests.
6. Giving in the church is proportionate to one’s resources – “For I bear witness that according to their ability …” (vs. 3a).
Paul had firsthand experience of their giving; that’s why he says “I bear witness.” He remembered the time when they met his financial needs (Phil 4:15-18) and sent Epaphroditus to Paul. He bore witness that they gave in proportion to what they were able.
The Macedonians gave according to what they were able. They were generous, but you better believe they were wise with the monies they had. They didn’t give 100% of their money to the church and hope they could figure out a way to feed their family when they got home or come up with a creative thing to tell their wives when they asked them where the money was.
7. Giving in the church is sacrificial – “… yes, and beyond their ability, …” (vs. 3b).
You get the impression Paul was taken back by the generosity of the Macedonians. They gave without anyone asking them to – no manipulation or coercion. They not only gave what they were able – in proportion to what they made – but they gave above that!
What makes sacrificial giving? Let me tell you what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean taking your paycheck every month and giving it to the church, neglecting your responsibility to pay bills or feed your family. That is bad stewardship and sinful.Being sacrificial is this: giving your extra monies or monies instead of using that money you would spend on some pleasure or want. Or as one of my professors put it, “Sacrificial giving is postponing or forgoing an earthly pleasure to provide for the kingdom’s advancement.”
The psalmist writes, “I will freely sacrifice to You; I will praise Your name, O LORD, for it is good” (Ps 54:6).
We could learn much from these familiar words of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount – “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matt 6:31-34).
Maybe the best example of sacrificial giving is the widow of Mark 12. She gave 2 mites, probably begged for off the street. Jesus tells us that is what she needed to meet her basic needs. But she gave it to the Lord instead.
To be continued …