Giving of our time and finances is a grace gift from our heavenly Father. (Read blog “Struggles With Giving and Getting”). Money is an issue in every person’s life and learning how to manage it rather than it managing us, learning how to make it, learning how to get and/or stay out of debt are all major topics in our world today. Financial advisors are sought out to aid us in managing our money and planning for the future. Though I am not opposed to any of this, I do believe seeking the Word of God for wisdom in this area will take us a lot further in getting free from concern about money and the future. Our ability to “give” as a means of receiving freedom will probably not be addressed by advisors operating in world standards except as a tax benefit. Giving is a God given gift of grace to all His children and we can learn some important “keys” to aid us in getting free from worry concerning finances and in being great stewards of God’s gifts.
2 Corinthians 8:1-4 reads “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering of the saints.”
This section of Scripture is amazing in that “they” (the Macedonians) implored the “us” (the apostles) with urgency to receive the gifts they were offering. The Macedonians were living in poverty at this time because Christians were being persecuted with their possessions seized. Yet they were giving to the apostles. To implore means to beg or plead. They were begging the apostles to take what they were giving even though they themselves were experiencing lack and were being afflicted. Not only were they pleading but they were doing it with urgency, which means they were requiring immediate action. Has that every happened in your family, church, or workplace? The children, congregation, or employees urge and plead with the parents, pastors, or bosses to receive gifts and fellowship of ministry?
This is a remarkable revelation containing a key to getting free from worry in finances and having more than we need: “Give according to our ability and beyond our ability”. Paul used the Macedonians as an example to move the Corinthians to give liberally no matter what their circumstances. They gave as liberally in affliction as if they were rich. The giving far exceeded what they were naturally able to give. We cannot understand this in the natural, but in the Spirit of the Lord it is natural to give above and beyond. He gives the ability to give beyond our ability, if only we give Him our ability. When we choose to keep it ourselves, He will not force or grant us the privilege and excitement of giving beyond our ability.
The apostles needed to be convinced by the people to receive what they were offering. I discussed this in the aforementioned blog as well concerning our personal reservations about receiving “too” much from the congregation. Pastors and church leaders today should cry out for God’s wisdom in this area because of the financial abuse witnessed in the Church. We should desire to be above reproach, suspicion, or accusation. Indiscretion of funds, injustice, greed, or any number of other things has been a snare for many leaders in and out of the Church. But we must also ask ourselves why did the Macedonians implore the leaders? What was occurring in their lives which caused them to “WANT” to give to their leaders? We might think it was because Paul and others were “great” leaders, wonderful preachers, and good people so perhaps they were “moved” to give to them. We often times determine what we are willing to give based on what we get, or on the apparent success of the person or organization, or on our perception or agreement with their leadership, ministry, or cause. Maybe we just feel sorry for them and want to “help them out”. The truth is the Macedonians did not “rate” their leaders or determine whether to give liberally for any of these reasons, nor should we.
The motivation for them to implore their leaders was being “in tune with the heart of God.” They took joy in knowing Jesus as their Lord and Savior, trusting He would care for them in the midst of deep affliction. They walked in the grace of giving because they FIRST gave themselves to the Lord, the second key to gaining freedom from worries concerning money. 2 Corinthians 8:5 says “And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.” We need a fresh revelation on giving ourselves completely to the Lord in order to release all control, worry, and fear concerning finances.
We present ourselves to God by giving all we have and are, sanctifying ourselves for Him alone to bring Him honor and glory. We are then willing to allow Him to work His will in us. By surrendering our entire beings to Him we are giving Him what is already His own. When I was growing up in the Lutheran church and the offering was received, we sang “We give Thee but Thine own, whate’er the gift may be, all that we have is Thine alone, a trust oh Lord from Thee.” What a beautiful proclamation of giving to God what He already owns, declaring whatever we have is His because He chooses to trust us with His possessions.
Once giving themselves to the Lord, THEN they gave themselves TO the apostles BY the will of God. When we take the next step, giving liberally of our finances, we are carrying out His will, giving His money as He desires it to be given. We can certainly give or bestow gifts for charitable uses without first giving ourselves to the Lord. However, God does not operate in that realm. All we have belongs to God and above all else His desire is for us to be in relationship with Him. Then we will overflow in the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. When we do things in the right order by first giving ourselves to God, we comprehend all we have is a gift from Him, our whole desire is to use His gifts to bring Him honor and glory, and whether in poverty or richness we will give liberally as He gave. Giving ourselves completely to Him allows us to see His revealed will and our desire is to obey. We do not look for excuses, try to get out of giving, find ways of using money elsewhere. We simply follow His directives.
Basically, when we take our eyes of the money and our giving and put them on our Lord Jesus Christ, giving every part of ourselves to Him, life changes. We will get free from worry about finances and will stop wondering who we should give money to or how much. We will live in the grace of our Lord Jesus and experience this grace in the area of giving. As we are in Him, He will reveal His will, and like the Macedonians, we will give liberally no matter the circumstances, and we will implore our leaders to receive our gifts and the fellowship of our ministry. Is this something that happens overnight? Probably not! But the beautiful benefits which will come by devoting ourselves to the Lord, surrendering every part of our being to Him can never be measured by money or time. However long it takes, as long as we dedicate ourselves to Him and lavish our love upon Him, everything else diminishes in comparison to time spent in the presence of our loving Savior.
If you still wonder if it is truly possible to give liberally at all times, whether in deep affliction or whether in times of prosperity let me share the ability of our God with you one more time. 2 Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make ALL grace abound toward you, that you, ALWAYS having ALL sufficiency in ALL things, may have an ABUNDANCE for EVERY good work.” And the prayer I leave with you comes from verses 10-11 “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in EVERYTHING for ALL liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God.”