It's Because

November 17, 2022

We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 2 Corinthians 8:1-8 ESV

We don’t see great, inspiring stories flooding the news media at Thanksgiving or other times, applauding people who paid their bills. If we hear a story that has to do with bill paying, it will be one that causes awe and amazement that someone paid the bills of someone else, most often someone they didn’t even know. Why? Because paying your own bills is expected. Paying someone else’s bills is unexpected. It is generous. It is unnatural.

That’s why the leaders of God’s people speak so often about generosity. Generosity is unusual and unnatural. It is an incredible blessing to the giver and the receiver. We are never more like Jesus than when we are giving and serving. But—it’s not natural. Jesus takes us beyond our initial comfort zone. He stretches us. You will never be accidentally generous.

Paul shares an amazing and inspiring story of generosity here. The Christians in Macedonia were in a crushing time of extreme poverty, but they had abundant joy because of their likeness to Christ. Their joy “overflowed” in a wealth of generosity. When they heard through the early church grapevine that the Corinthians were struggling financially, they didn’t just pray. The Corinthians were in a far different situation. Their financial trouble was mild and temporary compared to the Macedonians. Like a single mom on a very limited welfare budget taking on your monthly mortgage payment because she heard you were short ten hours on your check.

Praying for people who were better off than they were would be admirable—but they overflowed, giving beyond their means, of their own accord, BEGGING for the favor of taking part.

I sit here 2,000 years after their generosity in tears, breathless, and awestruck. I hear Paul speak to me: “Brenda, they did this unnatural thing because it started in the heart, giving themselves fully to God. I urge you to excel in giving too—not because you must, but your generosity proves to yourself, to God, and others, that your love is genuine.”

  • Oh, God, may I not be ruled by the “have-to” in areas of generosity! May I live from my “want-to” because my heart has been first fully given to You. Help me excel in giving.