The Grace of God
The Grace of God
We hear a lot about the grace of God but usually not in the same thought process as Paul mentions it in 2 Cor. 8.
"We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us" (2 Cor. 8:1–5).
· It was the grace of God that allowed them to take part in the great collection for the needy saints.
· God was taking care of the needy saints but instead of providing manna from heaven directly He was taking care of their needs by using other Christians.
· These saints of Macedonia were themselves in DEEP poverty. In OUR way of thinking, that would have ‘excused them’ from participating in this. In THEIR way of thinking, it was a FAVOR (from the same root word as 'grace' in vs. 1) to take part.
· While others seemingly did excuse them, they begged to be allowed take part.
· They then gave not as expected (what would YOU have expected from them?), but even beyond their means.
· They did not give out of their abundance; they gave out of their livelihood.
Today many people simply don’t give. Those that do give often give grudgingly and complain about it. Many see such giving as a great burden. Almost no one today gives out their living but rather they give a small part of their abundance. Instead of begging to be allowed to participate in such giving, they beg off!
The simple difference is stated in verse 5 when Paul explains that these Macedonian brethren "first gave themselves to the Lord". Their possessions were no longer theirs, but they were now stewards of God’s gifts. The blessings were not seen as a gift for their convenience and ease, but they were entrusted to use them to the glory of God and the service of God’s cause. We need more Macedonian minded brethren today. I need to be more like them. Have we given ourselves to the Lord?