“Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That’s what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.
I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich. So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands…
Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving. God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it, ‘He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.’ This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-15, 9:6-11 (MSG)
Paul was encouraging the church at Corinth to be generous in their offering for the Christians in need. In order to encourage them in their generosity, he pointed to the example displayed by the churches in Macedonia and their willingness to give even though their means were limited. He understood that generosity was an outworking of what God was doing in their hearts. When the churches in Macedonia experienced pressure, generosity was their response. It had much less to do with what they had. Paul knew that God was well able to work in the hearts of the Corinthians as he had done in the people in Macedonia. The Corinthians needed to press on in their giving and not grow weary. They had to focus on what they could do, not what they couldn’t do. Paul understood that generosity is a heart issue. In the same way God can work love, trust, and self-control into our lives, He is able to grow a spirit of generosity in our hearts as well.
Many times, generosity goes against our very nature. If we give, it is natural to think that we will have less. Yet, in God’s economy, it just doesn’t work that way. Being generous has little to do with our circumstances and more to do with our hearts. We see our limited means and impose that on God. This can lead us to believe that God is limited in his ability to bless or provide. When we believe this about God, we can be hesitant to step out and be generous, because we think that God’s generosity will run dry. God’s generosity is not limited or scarce; He is more extravagant in His generosity to us than we can comprehend. Our greatest need was met when God started the conversation by giving. John 3:16 (NIV) starts by saying, “For God so loved the world that He gave…” God didn’t even hold back his son; He was generous to us even before we were generous to anyone else.
Whether we think we have a lot or a little, that is not a prerequisite for giving. We can get so caught up thinking that when we have more, we will give more. Yet, when we dial into God’s extravagance, it changes our lives. If He wouldn’t hold back his son, do you think he will be stingy with other things that you need? You are not pouring from a limited supply, because God is able to supply all of your needs. He is our source. When we begin to understand how God has been so generous to us, then our giving becomes an overflow. Generosity can create abundance, but you don’t have to start with an abundance to be generous. We want our lives to be meaningful and fulfilled, but then we also want to hold on tightly to everything we have. When we give, we step into a bigger story, and we have more room for what God is wanting to do. The barriers that come from trying to preserve our lives can be released through generosity. Maybe God has been laying it on your heart to give of your time, energy, or financial resources, but you are just not sure if you can. Don’t allow what you see as lack to stifle your giving. Cultivating a spirit of generosity requires us to see everyday, ordinary moments as opportunities to give. When we give, not out of requirement or obligation, we are planting seeds that will reap a harvest. Remember that it’s not just up to you; you have an opportunity to be a conduit of God’s blessings to others. As you step out and give as God leads, may you delight in the giving and experience God’s abundant blessings in your life in a new way.
Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group. THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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About Hona Amer
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