December 19, 2018

The Joy of Giving

“… they gave not only what they could afford, but far more.  And they did it of their own free will.”  2 Corinthians 8:3 (NLT)

Christmas brings the joy of giving!  For God so loved the world, He gave….  You can give without loving, but you can never truly love without giving!  The joy of giving comes from a heart of love and compassion.  It was that kind of love that motivated the Macedonian churches to beg Paul for the privilege of sharing in the gifts being raised for the poor believers in Jerusalem. It’s even more impressive when you realize that their gifts were not given from their abundance but out of their own poverty!  In verses one and two, he writes:

“Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in His kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia.  They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.” 

The example of the Macedonian churches inspires and motivates us all with the joy of giving!  Despite their own poverty and need, these Christ followers wanted the blessing of giving to the needs of others.  The amount we give is never as important as how we give.  They gave out of their love for God and the joy that would be theirs in helping others in need.

How well does your giving measure up to the example of these Macedonian believers?  They raised the bar.  Every Christmas, I’m challenged with making my best gift to Jesus.  After all, He is the birthday boy!  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the commercialism and materialism of Christmas and find yourself broke or, worse, with a mountain of debt to pay off in the new year.  If you wait to determine your gift to Christ until you’ve done all your other Christmas shopping, you’ll find it hard to give cheerfully.  Why not pause just for a moment and simply ask God what He would have you give?  Experience the joy of giving your Christmas offering at your local church by giving your best gift to Jesus.

I loved the way the Apostle Paul challenged the Church in Corinth with the example of the Macedonian Churches and then adds,

“I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.  You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make you rich. … Here is my advice: … Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.  And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.”  2 Corinthians 8:8, 12 (NLT)

Then, in the next chapter, he adds:

“Remember this … You must each decide in your heart how much to give.  And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. ‘For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.’ And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others.”  2 Corinthians 9:6a, 7-8 (NLT)