I’m sure that you have had Sundays like the one I’m about to describe. You come in and sit in your seat (pew, chair, doesn’t matter). You sing a few songs (hymns, choruses, Top 40 CCM, U2, whatever your church does). There may be an opening prayer. You are having a great time worshipping the Lord, when it happens. Everyone sits, and the men in black come forward. The ushers. They’re carrying the offering plates of doom (Note: this is only relevant to those whose churches haven’t upgraded to online giving or direct withdrawals). As Gertrude belts out another offertory song, you can see the men getting closer and closer to your aisle. The look on their faces just seems so condemning, like a “Give or Burn!” type of look. But you just can’t give this week. You are getting backed up on bills, and gas prices are rising again, and so on and so forth. After all, you reason, Ronjour said before that God does not need my money, so He’ll understand if I take a pass this week. I just can’t afford to give this week.

I believe that 2 Cor. 8:1-5 teaches that we should not make excuses for not giving, but instead we should look eagerly for opportunities for God to pour out His grace on others through us. The Macedonian church faced both persecution and (possibly as a result) poverty. But they, with an abundance of joy, overflowed a wealth of generosity to Paul and his missionary ministry. In fact, they gave over and beyond their means. When people tried to talk them out of giving so much, they begged to take part in the relief of the saints. They wanted to give more. Paul’s only explanation for this was that it was the grace of God at work before his eyes.

How can Christians be so generous? They had their own problems, both with persecution and with poverty. Shouldn’t they do what most of us do when we have problems mount– turn inward and shut people out? Why did they turn outward and give even more passionately? Paul answers this, I think, in verse 5: “they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” In other words, they were totally committed to Jesus, and they were totally committed to the Paul’s ministry of the Gospel. Could we suggest that that might be our problem? Are we not totally committed to Jesus? Are we not totally committed to the Gospel? Could our giving be telling the world that Jesus is not that important to us, and that the Gospel of salvation really doesn’t matter that much to us? Please join me in praying that God will give us an even deeper committment to Him and His plan for the nations. Also, for the practical out there, what missionaries could you support with the money you have? What ministries? What churches? How can you use your money to contribute to the work of Christ in the world?