2 Corinthians 8:1-7, “1 And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you —see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
When was the last time that a church gave God the occasion to brag about His people? It’s easy to glaze over a passage and miss all the little miracles. Let’s start with the Macedonian churches. From this passage, we can gather that we’re talking about more than once church building in the area of Northern Greece. We know that they were facing “a very severe trial”, possibly some sort of persecution. We also know for a fact that they were extremely poor. This didn’t deter them from being joyful, generous, and down-right Godly people.
Now Paul is writing to the Corinthian church, who are by contrast, a bustling center of trade where many cultures have come to call home. There is a reason why they deserved not just one letter to set things right, but two. They certainly sound as if they’re getting along well, excelling in faith, speech, knowledge, earnestness, and love – but they haven’t quite gotten the giving part down just yet.
Are we any different? We could draw some parallels between the Corinthian and American churches, but I can’t name a modern church that I could compare with the Macedonian ones. It’s time to learn how to excel in the grace of giving, fortunately with this economy we have more opportunity than ever before.