The Passion of Grace-Giving

by Wayne Barber

2nd Corinthians 8:3-4

Giving is a subject that is hostile to the fleshly carnal mind. But to the believer, it is simply the reflex of Christ living His life in and through him. It is the reflection of the very heart of God working in the believer's life. There is no way a believer can say that he is walking with Christ and be stingy with his time or his money! I love that old saying: "if it looks like a duck; and if it quacks like a duck; and if it flies like a duck; then it must be a duck." Giving is the best way to determine if one is truly walking with Christ under His Lordship!

In our last article we saw a beautiful picture of how this looks by seeing how the Macedonian Church gave. Paul uses their giving to spur on the Corinthians, who had promised to give but had failed to follow through. In this article we will see the Macedonians' passion to give, which pointed to how Christ was working in their hearts. "For I testify that according to their ability, and beyond their ability, they gave of their own accord, begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints" (2 Cor. 8:3-4). In verse 3, Paul presents himself as if he is standing before a tribunal and is giving testimony to a hostile jury in defense of giving! He says "for I testify." He uses the word marturéo\, which means to be a "witness" in a courtroom testifying of a truth.

The poor Macedonians were living examples for us all of how God's grace works in His people to give! Paul says "that according to their ability they gave." The word for "ability" is dnamis; it expresses the ability to accomplish or to do something. If he had stopped right there some would say that there isn't much to talk about if they gave only what they could. You say, "Big deal! They gave according to what they were able to do. So What?" What do you mean, "So what?" In the Christian world today if God's people gave just according to what they were able to do the church would never be hurting for money to accomplish God's work! You see, even simply giving according to one's ability as a believer is God's grace working in their lives! But, God's grace goes a lot further than just that! Paul said "beyond their ability, they gave." 

When God's grace is working in a believer's life it is overwhelming how that person will give! This is stunning to the lost world! They can't understand this at all!  But, this kind of giving is simply the consequence of the stewardship of one's life towards God! I can hear someone say under his breath, "Yeah, I bet they were pressured to give that way! Well, Paul thought someone would say that, so he adds, "they gave of their own accord.­" They gave of their own accord! Paul means that no one, including Paul, coerced them to do what they did! It was Christ in them that caused them to give like they gave!

In fact, Paul shows how Christ was behind all this when he adds in verse 4: "begging us with much urging for the favor of participation in the support of the saints." Wow!  That's hard for most Christians in America in our day because we live in the greedy twenty-first century. Someone said a long time ago "We live such subnormal lives that when we see something normal we think it's abnormal!"

You see, so many believers do not live yielded to Christ! They have fallen into the trap of fleshly greed, and they think that their money is for themselves. They use it as a power weapon in churches and have not yet realized that it is God's and we are simply His stewards of what He has loaned to us. When will we finally learn to yield our whole lives, including our wealth, to Christ, to the point where giving becomes a natural reflex of our lives?

Grace giving is a passion to those who love Christ and seek to walk with Him!

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