2 Corinthians 8:1-7 (NRSV)
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints - and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you - so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
Wow! Today, I am struck by the words, [they were] begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints.
When was the last time you begged your pastor, or church council, for the privilege to give beyond your means to the church or to a special offering? :-)
I think that it is sad that so many people look downcast when it is time to pass the offering plate on Sunday; I can't even begin to fathom why this would be because our good God has given us every single thing that we have! Since this is true, giving ought to be something we GET to do, rather than something that we HAVE to do.
It seems to me that when we change our attitude about giving, we will find much joy in doing so! When we change our minds about sharing our resources, we will find that our hearts are more in line with the will of God.
Recently a friend of mine said, "To whom much is given, much is required." And this saying is true. God does not ask for equal giving; rather, God requires equal sacrifice!
One time, I was in a stewardship workshop and a pastor out of Washington D.C. described what happened in his church when the offering was announced.
He said that when it was "giving time" pandemonium broke out amongst the worshipers. They began to jump, dance, wave their offering, shout for joy, clap, and cheer as they rushed down the aisle to give their offering to God.
When I was in Ghana, I witnessed something similar. In each church that I visited, when it was time to bring the offering, the people jumped to their feet, and DANCED the offering down the aisle and into the offering plate! Their faithful obedience to God reminded me of the Macedonians who allowed "their abundant joy and their extreme poverty [to] overflow in a wealth of generosity."
Ah! What joy!
After witnessing this over and over again in Ghana I realized that they knew--and/or truly believed--something that I didn't. They knew that it is a blessing to give to God and to the church. They knew it was a privilege to help somebody less fortunate than themselves. They knew that as they gave of their tithes and offerings, God opened up the windows of heaven and poured out innumerable blessings into their lives...
I want to be a CHEERFUL giver like the folks in Macedonia, Washington D.C., and Ghana. I want to beg for the privilege of giving more to God and to the Kingdom of Love. I want to be joyful when the plate is passed knowing that only what I do for Christ will last!
Will you make up your mind to be JOYFUL as you give this Sunday?
Let us pray:
Oh holy God! Thank you for your generosity toward me. Please help me to be generous toward you as well. I want to be a cheerful giver. Please forgive me for being stingy and cranky in the past and please fill me with the Holy Spirit so that I will be joyful in the future. God, I know that you gave EVERYTHING, when you allowed Jesus to die on the cross to save me from my sin and gift me with eternal life. Please help me to respond to your love and generosity, by doing my part to share the good news with others. I pray this in Jesus' Name, Amen.
If you have questions about how to become a friend and follower of Jesus, please see the devotion entitled, “Come to Jesus” @ http://bit.ly/JVhaLta