Good morning friends. My busy season is drawing closer. In a few days I will be back in the rush of things, up at 5 am to get everything done to be out of the house and off to school with four children in tow. Allow me to enjoy my 6 am rise and shine today. We are moving on to 2 Corinthians 8.
I believe people find the hardest things in life to be related to money, or the lack of it. Many people think that a little more money will help them overcome their lack. I have found the more money you have the more you need. One of the greatest blocks between the Father and his children is money. I am sure it is one of the subjects that is prayed about the most and when it doesn't happen it causes some anger and resentment. The lack of money also provokes worry and fear which can separate us from God. Even when we are determined not to allow it money can take over much of our life. Yet, as a follower of Christ generosity is part of our character, or it should be.
It was on this matter of giving to others that Paul was addressing the Corinthians. Paul was completing his tour of the churches, taking up an offering for the church in Jerusalem. The Corinthians were the start of the collection and they would also be the conclusion. Paul wrote:
But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. v. 7
Isn't it interesting that Paul put generosity in the same category as faith. So often we give according to our head knowledge, we calculate and then decide. However, if you listened to your heart carefully you would discover that the Spirit places it on your heart what to give, and it is never according to the bank account because he encourages us to be generous. This is how Paul describes the generosity of the believers of Macedonia:
Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. vs. 2-3
Friends of mine made a financial decision last month concerning me. I was moved by their love because I knew it involved sacrifice. It was a case of what Paul had written, "Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity." But there is a fact that believers need to experience and trust as being true; God loves and rewards the generous. This week this couple needed a small sum of money to pay a bill and so they prayed without saying a word to anyone. On their way to pay the bill someone walked up to them on the street and gave them 10 times what they needed for the bill they were going to pay. Suddenly instead of being able to pay one bill they were able to pay several outstanding bills and they were encouraged. I am certain the Father took great delight in being generous to this generous couple. The proverb says:
A generous man will prosper;
he who refreshes others will himself be refreshed. (Proverb 11:25)
Of course generosity is much more than just money, it is a complete attitude that includes time, love, forgiveness and so on. I know someone who is so generous with forgiveness it is impossible not to forgive her. We are so much richer if we listen to what the Spirit is speaking to us about generosity. But I do need to give a cautionary note. Look at what Paul says about the Macedonians:
And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. (2 Corinthians 8:5)
Sometimes we believers are free with God's portion and not our own. The first 10% of what we have is the Lord's portion, to be given to him in our respective places of worship. This was established long before the law and is a thing we give with gladness and out of respect. Then we are to be generous with the other 90%. First to the Lord and then to what the Spirit guides us. If this sounds hard to you then you are not where you need to be in your love for the Lord and in the profoundness of your relationship with him. His love compels us to invest in others and we do it cheerfully. If there is reluctance there is something wrong.
Go ahead, test the Lord in this matter of generosity. When the Spirit prompts you to be generous today obey him and see what happens. I am not saying you will get back dollar for dollar, hug for hug, kindness for kindness, but watch how the Spirit works on those around you. Watch what happens with the seeds you sow today. My friends, let's make this a generous day according to the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.