The believers in Jerusalem were experiencing serious economic hardship. The Jewish economy was in bad shape, and the Christian believers were being persecuted economically in their own country. Paul was collecting money from Christians in other parts of the world to take to Jerusalem to help the believers there.
Macedonia was not a prosperous place like Corinth, but the Macedonians had given liberally and generously out of their own poverty. Paul wanted the Corinthians to do the same, and explained why the Macedonians had been able to give so generously... "What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives."
Because the Macedonians had given themselves unreservedly to God, the giving of their money to help others in need was the natural result.
At any given time, some of my friends around the world are experiencing economic hardship and others are experiencing prosperity. The same is true locally, as well. When there's an abundance and a surplus, God's promptings to give generously to others don't dig quite as deeply! When finances are tight, we have the opportunity to do a heart check.
Anytime I feel I'm being challenged to give more than I can afford, I need to simply check to see whether I'm still giving myself unreservedly to God. Like Paul says, "Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands."
Father, I renew my commitment to you today. I give myself unreservedly to you. Let my acts of giving and works of service to others flow out of my unreserved giving of myself to you. Amen.
They Gave Themselves to God
Reading: 2 Corinthians 8; Psalm 23
5 This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. 12 Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can't. The heart regulates the hands. (2 Corinthians 8:5, 12 MSG)
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