Taken from DiscipleGuide’s Pathways Daily Devotionals book
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Paul was familiar with the teachings of Jesus. When the elders from Ephesus came to visit him in Miletus, Paul quoted the Lord’s words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). During his visit with the Ephesian elders Paul spoke of his own ministry among them. He seemed to know that he would not see them again and charged them with the responsibility of caring for their flock of believers. Paul also reminded these men that he had coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel. He encouraged them to support the weak even as they had ministered to his own necessities. Paul reminded these elders of the blessings of giving rather than receiving. Later, the example of the Macedonian church was his inspirational model to exhort the Corinthians to do the same.
Paul’s theology of giving was exemplified here as he shared his experience after his initial visit to Macedonia. Because he had won their respect, he was able to encourage them as givers. In his second letter to the Corinthian church, Paul referred to the Macedonian church, which was willing to continue giving even though they were in the midst of persecution and poverty. More than give of the resources they had, they were “willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” But they first gave of themselves to the Lord.
The Macedonians’ willing spirit was the key factor. They found joy in sacrifice. My wife’s mother was one of those godly persons who always had something for someone who was in need. They were poor, but that did not seem to matter if someone had a need. She did not have money to give, but she was willing to share what food they had if someone were to come to their home hungry. Theirs was a large family, but that did not matter. She maintained a joy which gave her a peace and confidence she carried until the end of her life.
But Paul’s statement that they first gave of themselves is very important. I have known people who gave large sums of money to the church, but at the same time were not faithful to the Lord’s house for worship. While they were seemingly good people, it appeared that they were trying to “buy” the Lord’s favor by giving money.
Giving is important. While God does not need the resources he has entrusted to us, it is for our good that we learn the principle of giving. The greatest good is achieved when we give ourselves first. Are you giving the tithe to the Lord? Is that all? How much of you does the Lord have? Does he also have your time, energy, influence, service, and devotion?