Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in His kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do.2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Paul now picks up on another issue which he is going to stay with for quite some time. He uses the Macedonian churches as an example he wants to share with the Corinthians. The Macedonian churches were very poor, a fact which Paul reminds the Corinthians. Not only were they poor, they were burdened by many troubles. Yet despite all that they abounded in generosity. They gave not only what they could afford but more besides. They did it freely and willingly. In fact they begged for the privilege to be involved. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us. It truly is a privilege to be involved in giving when the Lord directs it as Paul indicates in this case. One would not want to miss out on the opportunity.
I am clipping this next unit from Bible Gems 252 where I originally shared the story:
There have been many times over the years that the ones who lack appear to be more generous than those who have money. There seems to be a law of inverse proportion operating in this matter. Those who have hang on to it more; whereas those who have less are more willing to give it away. How strange! People in rural villages we have visited across the world seem more ready to give out of their meagre means than those who have an abundance.
I met a man in the back blocks of Papua New Guinea while on a survey. We (five of us white strangers) arrived at a remote village unannounced at dusk. The people proceeded to clear out a house and clean it to allow us the use of it for the night. They took their last chicken and cooked it so we had something to eat. After the meal I got into a conversation with an old man. He asked me if we had tomatoes for the trail the next day. [Tomatoes are good as a vegetable that has high water content when hiking]. I told him no. He invited to go with him to his garden so he could give me some tomatoes. I declined the offer knowing PNG gardens are far from the village and it was already approaching 10.00 pm. Also it’s hard to follow a Papua New Guinean through the bush in the dark. As I was leaving with the others on the trail the next morning this man came up to me carrying a bundle of tomatoes as we made our way out of the village,. He had gone to his garden for me in the middle of the night and had come back early with the tomatoes to make sure I had something for the trail. Me, a white stranger he would never see again and all of my friends. I suspect he gave all he had to care for us. Go ye and do likewise.
Many times it is the ones who can’t really afford it who give. Why is that? One woman who “begged us for the privilege of sharing” in our ministry reacted strongly when I said, “We don’t expect you to give money to us. We know you can’t afford it.” Her response was to say “Ian Vail, don’t you rob me of the blessing of giving. If I chose to give to you and Tania then you need to be willing to accept it. I consider it a privilege to give and support you. So don’t rob me of the privilege and the blessing.” Oh how true that is. Read the other story I included in Bible Gems 253 (under the Romans Gems) as well if you need convincing. It is indeed a privilege to give when the Lord wants us to do so. Don’t rob yourself of the blessing.
Generous hands will never be empty.Reuben Morgan
We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.Dave Ramsey