Jim Wilson is the retired director of Community Christian Ministries in Moscow, Idaho. He will be posting regularly, so check back in soon!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Giving

“And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 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. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 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 Cor. 8:1-5)

“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” (2 Cor. 8:12)

We do not normally think of “severe tests of affliction” and “abundance of joy” going together. Nor do we think that “extreme poverty” normally “overflows in a wealth of liberality.” There are other unusual expressions in this passage, like “begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints.” This is refreshing to read after getting so many letters in the mail begging us to give. Paul was teaching the Corinthians the importance of giving from the heart. He was also collecting money, but he was doing it for the needs of others, not for his own needs. He was teaching people to give for their own good, and he was teaching people to give for the good of the people to whom they gave.

Love requires expression, and the primary expression of love is giving for the needs of others. “For God so loved the world that He gave...” (John 3:16). In 2 Corinthians 8, we find that giving is a “gracious work” and evidence “that your love is genuine.” “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

Giving is primary. Do you give your time? Do you give your home in hospitality? Do you give your possessions? Do you give your resources? Would you give your life? If your answer is, “I do not have the time to give, or a home, or possessions, or resources,” that is not important, “for if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not” (verse 12). If the readiness is there, you might find yourself in your poverty overflowing in a wealth of liberality.

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