Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality...And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2,5
Sensitive times are quite often the worst times to bring up sensitive subjects, right? Quite often, this is true, but I have to say that I think that sensitive times can be the best times to talk about sensitive subjects.
Take right now, for example. All of us have now lived in deep recession, the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. Lots of people need jobs. Lots of people have needs. But I think this is the best time possible to talk about money, because those were the circumstances happening in the world when Paul chose to talk about it.
That's when Paul talks about it to Corinth, in light of them being faced with a great trial of affliction. In other words, they're living in hard times. If we're living in hard times, that means we can relate. But look at what Paul tells us in our verses today.
Do you see that in the beginning they gave even out of their deep poverty? That means they gave what they didn't have. They gave, not out of their abundance, but out of their lack. They gave in times of difficulty and trials of affliction.
But Paul doesn't stop there; he helps us know where the giving starts-it starts with giving ourselves to the Lord.
Listen, He doesn't want your money. He wants you. That's where they started. They gave themselves to the Lord, then they gave themselves to Paul and his companions. Mark that, okay? This is not either/or; it is both. They gave themselves to God, then they gave again.
Well that ought to be enough, Pastor. I gave myself to God. What? Do you want more?
Well, the Scripture says: Not only did they give themselves first to God, but then to us by the will of God.
God's will. Who cares what my will in this is? I know it's a sensitive subject at a sensitive time. It's God's will that we give to Him and then give again. Our job is just simply to obey.
And, who knows? Maybe by talking about this sensitive topic at a time when we feel the cost of obedience more deeply, when we give our money to God then we'll actually give our hearts, too.
Prayer Father God,
Thank You that You want all of me and aren't willing to settle for less! I'm sorry for giving You less than my all in the past, but I repent from that and choose to trust in You to provide for me as I give generously and joyfully.