September 22, 2010

Giving in Jesus

 Grace and Giving Today

“Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,”

2 Corinthians 8:1

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     As you may recall, Philip of Macedon fathered Alexander the Great, who established a vast empire for Greece.  After the Romans gained control over Greece, they divided it into two provinces, Macedonia and Achaia.  For example, Gallio was the proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12), and it referred to the southern portion of Greece, with its capital at Corinth.  Taken together, Macedonia and Achaia refer to the whole of Greece in the New Testament (Acts 19:21; Romans 15:26; 1 Thessalonians 1:8; compare also Acts 20:2, where Luke uses the term Greece to mean Achaia).  Some historians tell us that in 27 B.C., Augustus separated  Macedonia and Achaia because of their cultural and political differences, especially because Macedonia followed  a monarchy, and the Greeks held a democratic ideal.  In the Bible, Paul addressed three letters to Macedonian assemblies: Philippians and 1 and 2 Thessalonians. 

Principle of Giving

Only The Grace of God Makes

Giving Possible

       In 2 Corinthians 8:1, Paul tells the Corinthians that that the churches of Macedonia have received grace from God for giving.  With simple words, Paul describes here a great truth of God.  Only the grace of God allows anyone to give.  The terms grace (“χάριν“) refers to receiving something from God which you did not deserve and could not earn.  Everything you possess, you did not really earn.  Instead, God gave you the strength to get out bed, go to work, and do your job.  God gave you life, and placed you on this planet, and He alone owns everything on it.  In this case, Paul does not elevate the Macedonian churches, but rather the grace of God given to them.  God has given a spirit of giving to the churches in Berea, Thessalonica and Philippi.  So often, one assembly can encourage another assembly to do more giving by the grace of God.

Principle of Giving

Sharing the News of God’s Grace

Encourages other Assemblies To Give

      Paul used the grace of God in Macedonia to spur on the giving of the assembly in Corinth.  Historically, Corinth and Macedonia had not always been friendly, but now they were united by faith in Christ and the grace of God.  Paul encouraged giving in Corinth by sharing with them how God worked in Macedonia.  We should not give because our friends give, or because we want to outdo some other Christian or assembly.  Rather, we give according to the principles we have already seen: “as we have prospered.”  The sharing of the news of giving helps Christians share the joy of seeing God’s grace in action.  We should never boast individually of how much we give (Matthew 6:1-4), but we should be free to share how God has worked His grace in our assembly for giving.  Publishing giving reports, without identifying individual donors, allows the grace of God to be seen and praised not only by the local assembly, but by other assemblies as well.  On a personal note, we should give so that the grace of God will be published to other Christians throughout the world.  God works in your heart to bless you with giving, and your gifts, in turn, will bless others.  But in both cases, God gets all the glory from giving.

        So, we learn some more about giving in Christ.

        ●  We learn that giving includes always the grace of God.  We only give by His grace.

        ●  We learn to give better by sharing the news of God’s grace in the giving from our assembly so that God alone gets all the glory.

       ●  We hinder our giving when we think that we have earned the money, or somehow deserve the income we receive.  We render all service to God, and God by His grace alone, prospers us. 

Application for Today

        Today, I want to encourage assemblies to share the news of giving by making public their giving records, but without identifying individual donors.  Are you giving by grace to your assembly so that God will get all the glory today?

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