2 Corinthians 8:1-2, “Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia, 2 that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.”
- The first and second letter to the Corinthians is a real letter to real people from the Apostle Paul, and in verses 1 and 2 the Apostle Paul is speaking to the Corinthian church about the local church in Macedonia (Two churches in modern day Greece).
- The Apostle Paul describes the Macedonian church as a people who are going through a “great ordeal of affliction” vs. 2, and yet they are “overflowing in the wealth of their liberality.”
- The word “liberality” means generous, which means the Macedonians are going through distress, challenges, sick kids, job loss, crazy politics, swings in the stock market, in deep poverty, and yet the Macedonians are generous with money!
2 Corinthians 8:3-5, “3 For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints, 5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”
- Do you see that in verses 3 and 4? In verse 3 they are giving according to their ability, and beyond their ability, and then at the end of verse 3 we see they are giving of their own accord.
- Do you see that word at the end of verse 3? The word, “accord” means “by one’s own choice.” It means the Macedonians weren’t giving generously in their poverty because they saw a sad commercial, or because they felt guilty, or because they are trying to gain favor from God, or because someone put up a thermometer on stage with sad faces.
- How did the Macedonians avoid the temptation to horde? How did the Macedonians avoid getting swept away on some cool sandals, or a new camel? Look at the end of verse 5. Do you see the answer? Verse 5 says, “But, they first gave themselves to the Lord.”
2 Corinthians 8:7-8, “7 But just as you abound in everything, in faith and utterance and knowledge and in all earnestness and in the love we inspired in you, see that you abound in this gracious work also. 8 I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.”
- This passage is written to the Corinthian church, and in verse 7 we see the Corinthian church is very gifted in faith, knowledge, prophecy, love, but at the end of verse 7 the Apostle Paul states, “See that you abound in this gracious work also.”
- In the context of 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul is raising money to bless people going through hardships in Jerusalem, raising money for the name of Jesus to be proclaimed, and raising money to see churches started, so that the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians and says, “Jesus is doing great things in you…lets finish!”
2 Corinthians 8:9-11, “9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. 10 I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. 11 But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability.”
- Do you see the Apostle Paul doesn’t just want to pass a plate? The Apostle Paul isn’t talking about 10%. The Apostle Paul wants to see the rule of Jesus, the reign of Jesus not just in love, knowledge, and prophecy, but also sift down into every area of the Corinthians life, including the financial.
- And it begins with Jesus. The generosity on the surface begins with the “awe of Jesus at the center of our lives.” Do you see that in verse 9? In verse 9 the Apostle Paul says, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.” He is pointing them to Jesus!
- Did you know that in Jesus you are rich? Do you believe that this morning? If you don’t see generosity in your life it isn’t because you need to try harder to be more generous. You need to gaze upon Jesus! You need to meet Jesus. You need to first give yourself to Jesus, and then you will see the things of this world are just, “Okay!”
It doesn’t make the things of this world wicked. Vacations are great, houses are great, remodeling a bathroom is great, but they all lose their luster when they are compared with the surpassing riches of His grace in Jesus!