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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.” The Macedonian church is a generous church. The word affliction means “trouble and hardship.”
Which means the Macedonian church is going through distress, challenges, sick kids, job loss, crazy politics, swings in the stock market, in deep poverty (vs. 2), and yet the Macedonians are overflowing in the wealth of their liberality! What? How’s that possible?
2 Corinthians 8:3-4, “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”
- In verse 3 they are giving according to their ability, and beyond their ability, which means their generosity doesn’t begin when they have all their needs met. No! The Macedonians are sacrificing. They are giving up comforts. They are saying, “No” to lesser things, so they can say, “Yes” to greater things. Does that make sense?
- And, at the end of verse 3 they are giving of their own “accord.” Do you see that word “accord” at the end of verse 3? The word, “accord” means “by one’s own choice.” It means the Macedonians weren’t giving because they saw a sad commercial, or because they felt guilty, or because the pastor held up a thermometer on stage with a sad face. It is because of their own “they want to give” so that when they are saying, “No” to the lesser things so they can, “Yes to the greater things, it is because they are convinced that those things are greater. Does that make sense?
2 Corinthians 8:5, “5 and this, not as we had expected, but they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”
Look at the end of verse 5. Verse 5 says, “But, they first gave themselves to the Lord.” Remember, these are real people living in modern day Greece. These are real people with kids, jobs, and challenges in life. How did the Macedonians avoid the temptation to horde? How did the Macedonians say, “No” to the lesser things to say, “Yes” to the greater things? They first gave themselves to the Lord.
That’s what this series is for in January. That’s what this time is for on January 25th. That’s why we give you questions to walk through the 7 most important areas of your life, and the financial part is absolutely an area of our lives that needs to be submitted to Jesus, so that we can, like the Macedonians, say, “No” to the lesser things and say, “Yes” to the greater things.
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.” Do you see that in verse 7?
- The Apostle Paul is encouraging the Corinthian church, and says, “Jesus is doing great things in you. There is love, prophecy, faith and knowledge, but abound in this gracious work of generosity also.…do this also!”
- It is important to understand the Apostle Paul could have commanded the Corinthians to give financially. He has seen the resurrected Jesus, He was sent out by the resurrected Jesus. He could simply say, “You must be generous!”
- But, in verse 8 the Apostle Paul says, “I am not speaking this as a command.” The Apostle Paul wants the Corinthian church to give of their own accord! He wants to connect their generosity to the great treasure the Corinthian church has in Jesus, and we want this for our church family also!
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 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 part of their life.
And it begins with seeing the awe and glory of Jesus. The generosity on the surface, the fruit of generosity we want to see on the surface begins with the “awe and glory of Jesus at the core 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.” You’ve tasted of His goodness! You know Jesus became poor, so that you might become rich. The Apostle Paul is connecting their giving to their awe of Jesus, and saying, “Do you see Jesus?”
Do you see the treasure we have in Jesus? Do you see Jesus is the only treasure that purchases you, vs. 9? Do you see that in verse 9, “though He was rich, yet He becomes poor, so that you through His poverty we become rich.”
When we give ourselves to Jesus, when we are purchased by Jesus, we find that Jesus is the owner of everything, and everything is in His charge. Jesus is in control. Jesus is in charge. Jesus is taking care of everything, and when that happens we will find ourselves saying, “No” to the lesser things, and saying, “Yes” to the greater things, but it has to start with Jesus.