2 Corinthians 8.1-9 – Giving out of love
How many of us received pocket money when we were children? Do you remember how much you got? Did you have to earn your pocket money by doing chores or jobs around the house? What did you have to do?
It’s all part of growing up isn’t it – learning how to look after your money; how much to save and learning how to budget. In the church we use the word ‘stewardship’. As God’s children we are called to be responsible with all of the things he has given us – that’s stewardship. We are encouraged as Christians to give away a proportion of our time, skills and money.
Giving begins with receiving, with the experience of grace (unconditional love given to us by God). Paul says, we want you to know about the Macedonia church. God gave them his grace and in their joy they gave much even though they were being tested by great troubles and were very poor. It’s not what Paul expected. Out of God’s overflowing grace it was like an extension to that grace and you know what, it touched Paul because he didn’t really want to take it because of their situation but it says at verse 4 that they begged and pleaded for Paul to let them share in this service. It says, they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us.
There are two things here: firstly, there is a need to be addressed and secondly the motivation of grace. This grace principle is summed up well in this quote: “Giving is being caught up in the flow of God’s gracious giving, being caught up in grace. The sacrificial giving of the Macedonians is in the nature of sacrament; it speaks in outward form of an inner grace. Paul isn’t wanting the Corinthians to match the Macedonians euro for euro, but to let grace flow through them and to share it generously.”
Amy Carmichael, a woman born in Ireland in 1867 who became a Christian missionary to India writes, ‘We can give without loving, but we cannot love without giving’. The message of giving for Christians is not about a few drops more from unwilling congregations but an exploration of the riches of grace. God is the giver of all and in Christ Jesus we see his self-giving. The grace of God is a spring, a waterfall, an overflowing of abundant supply; when we give, we are caught up in the flow.
Paul said to the Corinthian church, “I am not commanding you to give. But I want to see if your love is true by comparing you with others that really want to help. You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Christ was rich, but for you he became poor so that by his becoming poor you might become rich.”
Jesus said, “Where your heart is, then treasure is also.” (Matthew 6.21)