At The Well we have been focusing on 2 Corinthians 8:1-13 during our offering time (which i talked about at greater length here). If you haven’t read/studied this chapter, I encourage you to do so. For us, this has been a really helpful narrative to filter our understanding of stewardship, generosity and giving through.
Here is the section of Chapter 8 that we have been looking at:
8:1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they went beyond our expectations; having given themselves first of all to the Lord, they gave themselves by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you1 —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
2Co 8:8 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
2Co 8:10 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11 Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12 For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
2Co 8:13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, 15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
We’re taking a look at a verse/thought a week and taking it in slowly.
Last week we looked at verse 1: And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.
We basically spent some time together thinking about the amazing gifts that we have been given as individuals and as a community. If you think long, the list goes on and on. I remember one night in youth group during an all-nighter we were given the assignment of taking an hour and writing down all we were thankful for. This seemed like an monstrously impossible task.
But i wrote for about an hour and a half.
This isn’t an exercise to make guilt you into giving.
No, giving flows from a grateful heart.
It’s this kind of exercise and thought process that can make giving a joyous and exciting moment.
Of course, we aren’t only talking about giving money. We’re talking about holistic generosity. Gererosity that flows from thankfulness into all aspects of our lives. With our kids. With our friends. With our neighbors. In our workplaces. Yes, even with our enemies…
My good friend Tom Ward writes a good post about generosity here.