With that out of the way, in my last post we talked about two lies we believe that keep us from being the other-centered, giving people we want to be. This time, we’ll continue dissecting 2 Corinthians 8 and look at seven basic principles of what it means to give, Jesus style.
Before we begin, can I make a suggestion? Don’t get overwhelmed! Ask God to show you 1 or 2 things he wants you to focus on.
Here we go. Christ-like giving…
- involves all of life / who we are. The passage talks about money, but giving involves all of who we are – the Macedonians gave ‘themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us’ (verse 5). In many ways, giving of our finances is the easy part. Our time and full attention are often harder.
- should happen all the time. It’s not dependent on our circumstances, or, contingent on it being a ‘good time’. The Macedonians gave generously during a ‘test of severe affliction’ and ‘extreme poverty’ (2).
- is based on what we have, not what we don’t have. God isn’t trying to constantly overextend or drain us. ‘For they gave according to their means…’ (3). If you’re wondering how you can give, start by seeing what you already have – it might be a spare hour on a Wednesday afternoon, $20 a month, or something you’re good at.
- is willing to beyond what you think you can do. I know – this seems to contradict what I just said. It would be foolish to make a habit of committing to things we don’t seem to have the resources for. At the same time, God can do ‘more than all we ask or imagine’ (Ephesians 3:20), and the Macedonians gave not only what they had, but ‘beyond their means’ (3). Sometimes he’ll push us beyond ourselves to grow our faith and bless others. Are you open to that?
- proactive. Aren’t you impressed when somebody sees your needs and comes to you in an attempt to meet them? The Macedonians didn’t do the normal thing – wait for Paul to ask them to give – ‘on their own accord, [they begged] us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints’ (4).
- willing. When our heart is in something, it makes all the difference to the people we’re helping. (Parks & Recreation fans: think April versus Chris!) The Macedonians had that quality (‘readiness, verse 12) it showed. Is there a place in your life where you’re doing something just because you have to? Chances are doing the same thing, but willingly, would make all the difference.
- follows through on good intentions. We’re far enough from New Year’s to know that resolutions (willpower) only get you so far. Paul kept urging the Corinthians to follow through on their heart to help other Christians in Jerusalem because he knew how hard follow through is (see verses 6, 11). So many times, doing that last step or two to bring something to completion costs us the most and shows us where our heart really is.
So there you go. After two posts, here’s where we are: in contrast to the lies we tend to believe, we can give even during hard times, and, we have enough resources to give what God is asking us to (first post). And, he’s shown us clear, practical principles on how to do it (this post). Again, what one step might he be asking you to take in the next few days?
As this post wraps up, I admit to hoping you feel encouraged and overwhelmed at the same time. On the one hand, the seven steps above should feel ‘doable’ and help us get practical about becoming givers. On the other hand, if we’re honest, we know how hard it is to do any of them for any length of time. We’ve all seen ‘tips’ in magazines and TV shows, thought ‘isn’t that great’ and then never gotten around to trying them out. Or, closer to home for some of us, felt convicted by God to make a change and then…
The third and final post in this series is the most important because it will address where we can find the power to become more giving. (Hint: it’s not merely knowing what to do).
See you again next Wednesday!