Moving Toward Sacrificial Giving
Have you ever read 2 Corinthians 8? The first five verses of this chapter are some of the most compelling and convicting verses about generosity in the whole Bible.
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 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. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Have you ever experienced giving in this way? How often can your giving be described as out of an “abundance of joy,” “beyond your means,” or “begging . . . for the favor?”
What could possibly compel them to give this way?
I believe that verse 5 is the key for us understanding why the Macedonians gave this way and for us becoming sacrificial in our giving just like the Macedonians. Do you see it? “[T]hey gave of themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” The secret to this generosity came out of total surrender to God first. It didn’t come from guilt, or an attempt to gain favor, or a sense of duty. It came from being wholly and totally surrendered to God.
The Bible is very clear that how we use our money demonstrates what we actually believe (and whether we are surrendered). As a matter of fact, Jesus, Paul, James, John, and Peter all clearly tell us that when we are greedy or refuse to help our brothers and sisters in trouble it is evidence that we do not follow God. Let me be clear, I’m not saying that we can earn salvation by how we spend money, but how we spend our money is a fairly clear indicator of what we actually believe. For instance, if I believe that eternity is a real place and that if people do not put their faith in Jesus they will be eternally separated from Him, I ought to live in a way that demonstrates concern for the unsaved. I should be using some of my resources to help get the Gospel to these people.
This isn’t a guilt trip, it’s a gut check. Can we be people who are so given over to the Lord, that we consider it a favor to participate in giving to things that He considers of first importance? Can we be so in love with God that we give to our detriment with joy? The only way to get here is to give ourselves first to the Lord fully. Once we do this, we will, like the Macedonians, by the will of God, give ourselves to others.
So, how do you become a sacrificial giver? Give yourself first to the Lord. If you aren’t wholly surrendered, or if you don’t really even know what that means, get with God and start pleading with Him to transform your heart this way. Sacrificial giving like this only flows from a heart that believes it is all God’s and we are simply His distributors. From a heart that believes God is the greatest reward we could ever receive. From a heart that is not enamored with the world and its goods. From a heart that cherishes God and eternity above all things.
Once we surrender like this, we will then hear statistics about the billions of unreached people, billions of people suffering in abject poverty, and millions of Christians being persecuted for their faith, and beg for the favor of participating. Even to our detriment!
Let’s surrender our hearts to the giver of all good things!!