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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
Many times we decide how or what to give based on our ability. We do the ‘responsible’ thing and we look at what we think we can afford… what we can give without taking from our needs… what we can give without giving up our comfort. That approach is logical and would make sense to many people, I’m sure. It certainly used to make sense to me! But giving in this way keeps the focus on us. It is based on what we perceive our ability to be. It is focused on our ability, our comfort, our budget, our….selves.
There is nothing wrong with budgeting. In fact, it is an integral part of good stewardship. But I am challenged to open up that process of budgeting to be led by God. If I acknowledge God in all I do (Prov 3:6), He promises to give me clear direction. Instead of basing my giving on what I can do, I want to give based on what God wants to do through me. Based on HIS ability rather than my own.
As I give of myself and my resources to others, may I always seek God for what He wants to do rather than using a fixed number. In faith I am yielding my giving to God, knowing and trusting that He will be faithful to keep me wherever He leads me. I’m relying on God’s grace to release my old formula to Him:
What I have – [What I can afford + What protects my comfort +What makes sense to my natural mind] = What I will give
May my giving be open to God’s leading so that His grace and power and love can flow freely through me. May I be one that He can entrust with seed knowing that I will be faithful to sow as He directs. May I be not just a recipient but a channel for the overflow of what God is doing in my life.
Like the people of Macedonia let us start by giving what we can and then choosing to be open to give beyond our ability…according to God’s ability. Let us be willing to give in a way that might be uncomfortable or even painful, if God requires it, trusting that He will sustain us. God is calling us higher and deeper to a more excellent way. He is calling us to LOVE (1 Cor 12:31). To a place where our giving is a reflection of His love.
When we give based on what we’ve always done, we leave no room for the Holy Spirit to direct us down paths we’ve never been before. Let us love as He loved, serve as He served, give as He gave when Christ laid down His life for us.
Whatever I think my life is comprised of other than Christ, I lay it down. I give it all for love of the One who first loved me. The One who loved me when I was unlovely and rejected Him. The One who passionately pursued me with His love and captured me with grace and mercy. I will worship Him with my life by giving freely of all that I am and have. That is the only response worthy of One as lovely as He.