Tuesday, June 16, 2015
“Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God” (2 Corinthians 8:4,5 KJV).
Today’s Scripture is the key to giving under grace.
Giving to churches is justifiably a very sensitive matter. Especially when preachers demand $65-million personal jets! There is much abuse when it comes to religion and money. Ironically, when Jesus condemned “thieves,” He did not castigate publicans (tax collectors who amassed exorbitant amounts from the Jews to give the Roman government). Rather, Jesus entered the Temple—Israel’s religious center—and declared thieves had overrun His house. He drove these religious people from God’s house (Matthew 21:12,13; Luke 19:45,46; John 2:13-17). Paul confessed that, before salvation, he, a Pharisee, “profited in the Jews’ religion above many [his] equals in [his] own nation” (Galatians 1:14).
We read today’s Scripture in context: “ Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;  How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.  For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;  Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.  And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
When Paul collected from his converts various goods to assist the poor believing Jews in Jerusalem, the Macedonian Christians, though poor, wanted to give more and more (beyond their means). The believers in Macedonia (Thessalonica and Berea) were motivated by God’s grace. We first give ourselves to the Lord. Then, we give to sound grace Bible ministries—NOT out of fear of God’s curse (tithing), but out of thanksgiving for God’s blessings (giving under grace). Let us give “cheerfully” (2 Corinthians 9:6,7)! 🙂