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2 For in the midst of an ordeal of severe tribulation, their abundance of joy and their depth of poverty [together] have overflowed in wealth of lavish generosity on their part. 3 For, as I can bear witness, [they gave] according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability; and [they did it] voluntarily, 4 Begging us most insistently for the favor and the fellowship of contributing in this ministration for [the relief and support of] the saints [in Jerusalem]. 5 Nor [was this gift of theirs merely the contribution] that we expected, but first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us [as His agents] by the will of God [entirely disregarding their personal interests, they gave as much as they possibly could, having put themselves at our disposal to be directed by the will of God] 2 Cor 8: 2-5 AMPC
The church in Macedonia exercised CRAZY GIVING. They weren’t like most of us who wait until it’s comfortable to give. They gave in the midst of their ordeal. As they went through SEVERE tribulation, they didn’t shrink back…they GAVE.
You would think that people going through that much suffering would be overwhelmed with sadness and low in spirit, but the Bible says they had an abundance of joy. They didn’t just have joy in their trials but an ABUNDANCE of it!
They seemed to live by this crazy, upside down formula:
Abundance of Joy + Depth of Poverty = An Overflow in Wealth (of lavish generosity)
Sounds all mixed up and totally not the way most of us see life. But really, this is how they lived. Lavish generosity in the midst of deep poverty leads to experiencing abundant joy which moves us into lavish generosity again…and so this wonderful cycle continues.
When we are going through great trials, we usually feel we have nothing to give, nothing of worth. The usual tendency in times like these is to hunker down and conserve. Conserve our emotional and spiritual energy. Conserve our financial resources. Just keep as much of what we have and are to ourselves. That seems logical, but giving motivated by God’s grace defies logic. That type of giving looks a little wacky.
When we in the depths of our poverty (of spirit and/or finances), in response to God’s grace, decide to GIVE LAVISHLY of ourselves first and then whatever we have, there is bound to be an abundance of joy. God will pour it out into your heart until it overflows and inspires more giving in you and in those around you. Joy and giving are connected and infectious. People who see you joyously giving out of your lack will be moved to give too. So then it becomes an overflow in wealth of lavish and joyful generosity.
God gives seed to the sower (2 Cor 9:10). Everything we have to give is seed – an investment into the soil of our lives, that bears fruit if planted. Everything we have to give comes from God. Giving is the planting of the seed God has given us. So as we give our time, talent and resources, He will increase our ability to give. He will bless us in ways we never imagined. Many times, in ways that totally surpass finances and result in true fulfillment.
If we all give lavishly, joyfully and generously, there can be no lack, no poverty among us. Let us stop allowing the enemy to convince us that we have nothing to give. Let us stop being blinded to all the blessings that God has given us to share with those around us. Let us begin to see that what we have to give goes so far beyond what our bank account says. Many times the most precious gifts we can give to others has nothing to do with our financial wealth. Let us stop waiting on our circumstances to change in order to give. Let us give and watch God change our perspective of our circumstances instead!