In my last post (you can read it here), I shared three ways to give in order to make a difference in the lives of others. In this post I will simply state the first three main points by way of review and then share the other four ways believers should give.
In order to make a difference in the financial advancement of God’s kingdom…
1 – Give Responsively (in response to God’s grace, vv.1-2)
2 – Give Generously (“overflowed…in generosity,” v.2)
3 – Give Proportionately (“they gave according to their means,” v.3a)
4 – Give Sacrificially (“they gave beyond their means,” v.3b)
So they gave what they had but they gave it in proportions that were sacrificial. Their giving was beyond what could or would be expected of such poor Christians. Evidently they trusted God to supply their needs while they did their best to be used of God to help meet others’ needs (Phil. 4.19).
Sacrifice. I wonder how many of us even know what that word means? By definition, sacrifice is “an act of giving up something valued for the sake of something else regarded as more important or worthy.”
How many of us are willing to give up a valuable piece of property for the more important cause of Christ?
How many of us are willing to forgo that planned new car purchase for the more important advancement of God’s kingdom?
How many of us are willing to take some of that valuable inheritance and give it to the more worthy cause of getting the gospel to the regions beyond?
Bob Russell, retired pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, KY, tells of Jackie Nelson giving a moving testimony several years ago:
Jackie said, “I am a single mother of three teenagers. My ex-husband does not help. I barely get by. We really want to do our part in this three-year campaign so our new building can be built. But when we discussed it as a family, we realized that we can’t give any more than a tithe. So we decided that our gift would be to pray every day for the success of this program.
“But in the middle of our discussion my oldest son said, ‘Mom, we’ve got cable television. We don’t have to have that.’ So we’ve decided to give up our cable TV for three years so we can do our part.”
The congregation realized, “If she can make that kind of sacrifice to give a little, we who are so blessed can do even more.” Like the five loaves and two fish that Jesus used to feed a multitude, God took Jackie’s small gift and multiplied it many times over.
5 – Give Voluntarily (“of their own accord,” v.3c)
No one forced them to give. They weren’t strong armed into giving. Paul didn’t put them on some emotional guilt trip. He didn’t try to manipulate them. He simply shared the realities behind the need. He told the truth about the condition of their fellow believers. And they responded! Paul didn’t bribe anyone. He didn’t promise, “If you’ll plant a seed…” (I could very easily vent here!).
6 – Give Eagerly (“begging us earnestly…,” v.4)
Remember Arnold Horshack on the TV sitcom “Welcome Back, Kotter”? He’s the one who got so excited when he thought he knew an answer to one of Mr. Kotter’s questions. With his hand raised, he would say, “Ooh-ooh-ooooh!”
I see the Macedonians responding similarly. “Ooh-ooh-oooo! We want to help! “Ooh-ooh-ooooh! We want to give!” Do you ever feel that way when the offering plate in passed at your church? Or do you grumble under your breath, “There they go passing the plate AGAIN!”
7 – Give Worshipfully (vv.5-7)
Notice especially verse 5 where Paul says that they “they gave themselves first to the Lord.” They gave themselves (again) to the Lord in total consecration. Their surprising generosity is a direct result of their dedicating themselves to their Savior.
Motivation is where the money is…
One of Paul’s goals in stirring up the Corinthians to give is to verify the genuine nature of their love as Christians: “I say this… to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine” (2 Cor. 8:8).
In other words, “talk is cheap!” “Put your money where your mouth is!” But don’t forget, the amount of money you give is not nearly as important as the motivation for giving. This becomes abundantly clear when we read 1 Cor. 13.3, “If I give away all I have…but have not love, I gain nothing.”
Giving to others may or may not be an act of love, depending on whether it is motivated by the overflowing joy that flows from being made “rich” by Christ and His amazing grace!
The Macedonians learned what Jim Elliot, the great missionary martyr in Ecuador would later say, “He is no fool who gives away what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Treasures stored in Heaven need no insurance coverage; they’re untouchable by thieves and exempt from depreciation (Mt 6.19-21).