SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- A church from Macedonia was struggling with severe poverty issues, and yet, they still gave generously and joyfully to the church. Paul even shares that they gave above and beyond their means because they believed giving is a great privilege for a believer.
- Paul then asks the Corinthians to be generous and follow through on the promises they had already made. He praises them for excelling in their faith and knowledge, but he encourages them to excel in giving as well.
- Paul says that he wants them to give in accordance with what they make. He does not give details or percentages. He merely encourages them to give as much as they can without being in financial stress themselves. He reminds them that willingness to give is key, and the goal of giving is equality. When the Corinthians have extra, they can supply what others need and vice versa.
- Paul then tells them he is sending Titus to Corinth to receive the financial gift and wants him to be welcomed.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- It is easy in a difficult financial situation to hold your money even tighter. But the Macedonians fought that temptation and gave away what they didn't even have. They understood that everything is God's.
- Faith and knowledge of God is important, but giving is critical. This is because finances is a window into our hearts. Although Paul makes it clear giving is not mandatory or a commandment, it is a test of our sincere love for God. The more we love him the more we are able to loosen our grip on money and give it away to those in need.
- In one of the passages we’ve read before (Luke 12:22-34) Jesus says, “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” We tend to spend our money on the things we value most. So if someone examined how you spent your money, what would they say you value most? Does how you use your money show that you truly value God or things? If you truly love God, how do you need to change how you invest your money?
- Are you "excelling in the grace of giving"? Not only did the Macedonians give way more than they should, they gave joyfully. Are you willing to give more? Are you able to give openly and joyfully, or does it feel mandatory and frustrating? How we feel about giving says a lot about our hearts. What can you do today to be like the generous Macedonians?