April 10, 2014

The Grace of Giving

“Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.”

2 Corinthians 8:2 (NIV)

It was the grace God had given these Christ followers that motivated and enabled them to act contrary to what you would have expected. Joy overflowing out of the most severe trial is not natural. The same grace generated a rich generosity out of extreme poverty! That is grace giving! The Apostle Paul uses their example to motivate us. “… see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” This wasn’t “guilt giving.” There’s a huge difference between giving out of guilt and giving out of grace. Once you’ve experienced grace, you’re never the same! The description of these grace givers is amazing. Look at the next few verses Paul writes about them. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 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.” (Vs. 3-5) Notice who is doing the pleading. It wasn’t a preacher pleading for them to give. They were pleading for the privilege to give! I’ve met people like that! They’re different! Are you a grace giver? The secret of grace giving is found in verse five where we are told, “…they gave themselves first to the Lord….” Once you’ve given yourself to God, other things do not appeal as they used to do. The grace you’ve received motivates you to give extravagantly. Like the woman who anointed Jesus with the perfume worth a year’s wages or Zacchaeus who paid back four times what he had taken from others, grace givers know that nothing they give could measure up to what they have received! Have you received such grace? If you have, no one will have to guilt you into giving. You’ll look for opportunities to invest in what God is doing in the lives of others around you.