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September 23, 2010

Giving in Jesus

 Joyous Giving with Liberality Today

“that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.”

2 Corinthians 8:2, pages 1812

     Great affliction comes in many forms.  In the Bible, many people died because of their faith in Jesus Christ.  For other people, affliction changes them, so that they fall into deep pits of sorrow and depression, and never escape.  Some people loose all hope, become angry, and fight with their friends and family.  But for some Christians, great affliction produces some remarkable results.

      In 2 Corinthians 8:2, page 1812, Paul describes the Macedonians as suffering a great ordeal (“πολλῇ δοκιμῇ “) of  affliction (“θλίψεως“).  Tribulation will always comes into our lives, and sometimes it will be larger than other times.  In this case, it was a great ordeal.    Paul lets us know, however, that the Macedonian’s affliction did not stop them from having joy in their poverty, and giving with liberality.

Principle of Giving

Affliction Should Never Stop

Your Joy or Your Giving

       Only Jesus Christ can produce true spiritual joy in the presence of great affliction.  Many times in my life Jesus has provided joy when things were not going well on a human level.  For the Macedonians, they suffered persecution from Judaizers who hated Christ and His message of salvation.  They also lived in physical poverty, but abounded in spiritual riches in Christ.  Right in the middle of the affliction, the Macedonians found joy, and coupled with their poverty, gave from their spiritual riches.  Great affliction never stopped their joy or their giving.

Principle of Giving

Poverty with Affliction Should Never

Stop Your Joy or Your Giving

       Do you remember the story of the widow giving her last coin to God?  Jesus saw her and told His disciples that she had given more than anyone else, because she gave no out of riches, but out of her poverty (Mark 12:41-44, pages 1583-1584).   Likewise, the Macedonians never let their physical poverty stop them from giving.

Principle of Giving

Giving Must Always Involve Liberality

      Paul describes the giving of the Macedonians as overflowing (“ἐπερίσσευσεν“) from their liberality (“ἁπλότητος“).  Liberality flows from the depths of the riches in Christ believers store in their hearts.   We do not have to have much, to give much.  Paul emphasizes the generosity of the Macedonians, not the actual size of their gift in money.   Giving will always involve liberality in the sense that you give like you love Jesus.

Principle of Giving

Establish Giving Relationships with

Believers Proclaiming the Gospel

       The Macedonians had developed a financial relationship with Paul and represented their liberal giving, even when poverty and affliction beset them.

1.    Pursuant to the Macedonian vision (Acts 16:1-40, pages 1731-1733), Paul journeyed to Philippi, spread the Gospel, and the Macedonians began to fellowship with Paul in giving, even before he left Macedonia (Philippians 1:5, page 1835; Philippians 4:15, page 1840–only the Philippian assembly sent gifts to Paul while he was still in Thessalonica).

2.  Timothy and Silas brought a gift from the Macedonians to Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5, page 1736; 2 Corinthians 11:9, page 1815).

3.    Before Paul went to Rome after the third missionary journey, the Macedonians had made a donation for the saints in Jersusalem (2 Corinthians 8:1-4, pages 1811-1812; Romans 15:26, page 1780, where both Macedonia and Achaia had a contribution for the saints in Jerusalem).

4.    While Paul was in Rome, the Philippians sent Epaphroditus to Rome bearing their gifts of fellowship to him (Philippians 2:25, page 1837; Philippians 4:18, page 1840, which Paul described as a “fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.” 

       Likewise, people and assemblies should establish financial relationships with workers who are actively proclaiming the Gospel of Christ.  Even when the workers provide some of their own needs (Acts 18:1-43, page 1735, making tents for support; compare 1 Corinthians 9:14, page 9:14, page 1792–those who proclaim the gospel should get their living from the gospel; but see 2 Thessalonians 3:8-9, page 1853, where Paul worked night and day to feed himself, so as not to be a burden at Thessalonica), they still benefit from financial help, as you can see above.  We need to build those spiritual relationships, knowing that one part of fellowship will always involve giving of money. 

        ●   So, we learn some more about giving in Christ.

        ●  We learn that giving with liberality flows from the riches of Christ in our lives, and not from the amount of money we possess.

        ●  We learn to give better by establishing giving relationships with people, and continuing those relationships over time.

       ●  We hinder our giving when we focus upon our poverty and forget the riches of Christ Jesus, who call us to fellowship in serving our brethren with financials gifts. 

Application for Today

        Today, I want to encourage my friends to give with liberality, no matter how much you have.  Joyous giving, even during affliction, brings blessing to our fellow believers, and ourselves.  Will you give with joy and liberality, even if afflicted, today?


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