Paul tells a remarkable, inspiring story in his second letter to the Corinthian church.
The Jerusalem church has been hit by an economic depression and Paul is collecting funds to send back to the believers. He’s meeting a bit of resistance from the Corinthian church. Although the church was in a wealthy region, some seemed reluctant to give. Perhaps it’s an instinct to pull back when times get tough.
To inspire the Corinthians, Paul tells the story of the Macedonian church. No two churches could be much more different. While the Corinthians were wealthy and affluent, the Macedonians were more lower to middle class.
What do we learn?
And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 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. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5
1. You can financially rich and spiritually poor. This little church was struggling itself yet couldn’t wait to chip in and help. True wealth comes not in what you keep for yourself but what you give to others.
2. They gave beyond their ability. When you give based upon your own ability, you’re depending on yourself. When you give from beyond your ability, you’re trusting God to supply the difference and then some. Even more incredible, they pleaded with Paul for the chance to be generous.
3. Generosity doesn’t start in your wallet; it starts in your heart. Before the Macedonian gave a dollar to the offering, they first gave themselves to the Lord. For someone who has given their heart and life to God, giving ten percent (or more) isn’t that big of a deal.