Growing in giving

I know a Christian family who were really struggling.

The wife’s job did not pay very well and the husband’s employer went bankrupt.

With two small children, the expenses just kept growing and they started living off their credit card.

The husband found another job, but not that well-paying either.  It seemed that they could not dig themselves out of their financial hole.

In God’s providence, another Christian, a business-man, heard of their dilemma. He had just done a business deal and some money had finally come in.

After prayerful consideration, he decided to pay off the family’s credit cards, get them set up with affordable accommodation and he gave them a budget plan for the future.

This is a great example of generosity or, as the Apostle Paul would say, a great act of grace.

Notice the amount of times the Apostle Paul used the word “grace” in 2 Corinthians 8:1-7.

1 We want you to know, brothers (and sisters) , about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favour (grace) of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.

2 Corinthians 8:1-7 ESV

By Paul’s use of the word “grace”, we see that how we spend our money is a spiritual issue.

How we spend our money is an indication of our spiritual growth.

How we spend our money is an indication of how much we understand and appreciate the grace of God.

Generous grace in a fundraising project

The churches in Macedonia that the Apostle Paul referred to were not rich churches, but rather they had suffered much poverty and persecution. Yet they gave generously to other Christians in need.

They said, “We don’t have much, but there are Christians who have less”.

They were poor financially, but rich in generosity.

This was a demonstration of the grace of God.

The grace of God is supremely seen in the Lord Jesus. Jesus, though he was rich, chose to become poor; so that we, who were spiritually bankrupt, might become spiritual billionaires – forever.

Above and Beyond

Not only that, they also gave beyond their ability (V3).

The Macedonians did not skimp on their giving.  They did not just stingily give to the need of the moment.  They did not even give in line with what they were capable of giving.

They gave “beyond their means” (v3).

“This was a noteworthy token of their refusal to take anxious thought for the morrow because of their confident dependence on God, who as the Heavenly Father, knows His children’s needs before they ask him and will not fail to supply those needs  from the boundless storehouse of His grace.”

(Christian author)

Begging to bless

Paul did not command the Macedonians to give; they begged Paul for the privilege (v4).

The giving of the Macedonian churches was a physical, practical, tangible demonstration of the grace of God in their lives.

God has been gracious to us in Jesus, so we show grace, generosity, and kindness to others.

Cross-cultural ministry

Paul’s fundraising project (the “collection”) was for the struggling, impoverished Jerusalem church. 

Interestingly, the Macedonian Christians were giving towards the needs of the Jerusalem Christians – people they had probably never met before.  

The Jerusalem Christians were from a predominately Jewish background and the Macedonian Christians from a predominately Gentile background.

The Macedonian’s giving was thus an act of grace to brothers and sisters in Christ, from a different ethnic background, that they had never met before.

Awesome.

Growing in my giving

The Macedonians’ giving raises some important questions for us:

  1. Do we view our giving as evidence of God’s grace in our lives?
  2. Do we seek to grow (“excel”, v7) in our giving, just like in other areas of our life?
  3. Do we love our brothers and sisters in Christ enough to want to meet their needs? Even Christians we have never met before, from a different background, in churches unlike our own.
  4. Do we tend do give as little or as much as we can?
  5. Are we demonstrating the generous, grace of God to an often grace-less, divided society and world?

Perhaps you could ask your church how you could better give to Christians in need (including those in other churches) and other important fundraising projects?

(Image by skeeze from Pixabay)