2Co 8:1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2Co 8:2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
2Co 8:3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
2Co 8:4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.
2Co 8:5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
We are going through a series right now about Missions giving.
In this passage we see a group of people from the churches in Macedonia, who gave gifts of money to Paul for the work of the ministry. Now understanding that Paul was doing the work of a missionary, that makes this a missionary offering.
And it is interesting to note a few short points about this giving for missions.
- It was a grace that God had bestowed upon them. God allowed and provided for them to give in this way – not the money, but intent.
- They were in a “…great trial of affliction…” and also in”…deep poverty…” when they exercised this grace.
- They had an abundance of joy when they exercised this grace.
- They were very liberal – or generous – in this offering.
- They gave not only “to their power”, but also “beyond their power”. They gave not only what they had, but they even gave that which they didn’t have to give.
- They insisted that this gift be given to the missionary Paul – they would not be refused.
This is really interesting to me, because in this we see that these people gave what they could, and then gave what they (in the world’s eyes) shouldn’t have given. They were already in great trial of affliction and deep poverty, but they gave what little they had – everything they could afford to give, and even more that they couldn’t really afford to give.
And they did this because of what is written in vs 5 – they gave their own selves to the Lord.
The series we are going trough, the preacher says “If you say you love God and don’t give to missions, I don’t believe it”. “If you say you love God and don’t come to services, I don’t believe it”. “If you say you love God and don’t witness and share the Gospel, I don’t believe it”.
Their love for God was shown out by them first giving their own selves, and the actions followed – actions where they gave money they couldn’t afford to, so that the Gospel could be preached. I wonder where that money came from? I wonder if that money meant that they had to do without lunch for a week so that the missionary could eat?
Love is not some mushy emotion – it is seen in action, and these people first gave their own selves, and that meant that they gave to their power and beyond their power, even though they were in affliction and deep poverty.
I shake my head at myself when I think of this – at how little I love the Lord when I look at what of my life I give to Him and I allow Him to direct.
I wonder what would happen if Christians today truly “..first gave their own selves to the Lord.”?