Rich Generosity

                “And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”

                                                                                                                                                                2 Corinthians 8:5

In the eighth and ninth chapters of 2 Corinthians the Apostle Paul writes an encouragement to the Corinthian Christians for them to complete the work of gathering the special offering for the relief of the Saints in Jerusalem who are dealing with a severe famine.  Paul wants to make sure that these Corinthians will be ready when it comes time to send the gift off to Jerusalem.  Paul encourages them by telling them about the extreme generosity of the churches in Macedonia.  These Churches gave extravagantly despite their extreme poverty.  As Paul puts it, “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)  Those things usually do not go together.  Trials and poverty when added together do not usually equal rich generosity.  In the case of the Macedonian Christians however it did.  They urgently pleaded with the Apostle to be included in the offering.  They counted it a privilege to be allowed to give to others.  Is this how we think about our own stewardship?

One of those Churches was the one in Philippi to which Paul wrote these words.  “I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me.  Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it.  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty.  I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.  Yet it was good of you to share in my troubles.  Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the Gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one Church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only; for even when I was in Thessalonica, you sent me aid again and again when I was in need.  Not that I am looking for the gift, but I am looking for what might be credited to your account.  I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied, now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent.  They are a fragrant offering, and acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.  And my God will meet all your needs according to Hid to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.  To our God and Father be glory forever and ever.  Amen.” (Philippians 4:10-20)

                About this Church, and the one in Thessalonica, Paul wrote that they followed a principle that is vitally important for every part of our Christian living.  This is that the foundation for all that we do, and become, as Christians is the giving of ourselves unconditionally to the Lord.  The implication of this is that the Macedonians had come to trust the Lord Jesus Christ implicitly.  They gave themselves to the Lord without reservation.  Therefore they will obey Him in every part of their lives.  They trusted Him.  In fact I believe that this is what it means for us to have faith.  It would involve them seeking out His will through the application of the Word of God to their lives by the Holy Spirit.  This was the life that they were called to live.  It is also the life that we are called to live as well.  Have you given yourself to the Lord unconditionally?