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. Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you —see that you excel in this act of grace also. – 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
As Corinth excels in faith, speech, and knowledge, Paul asks that they excel in another display of kindness. Paul has been working with the churches of Macedonia. The churches there have experienced great suffering and they endure deep poverty. Even so, they were generous in giving above their means to be a helping service to the ministry. We are familiar with passing the plate at church. There is surely a Biblical defense for it. This is not a message on tithing. This is about priority.
The churches in Macedonia received the message of Christ knowing the hardship it would bring. Receiving Christ’s message often made you an outcast, to the point of genuine despair. Even so, they wanted to help Paul and the apostles move the message forward. Macedonia’s giving was not just about payroll. The apostles distributed to those who were being persecuted. Some new believers had to relocate or hide for extended periods for survival sake. Sacrificial giving in that time meant someone else’s survival.
It can be just as dramatic in our time. We are enjoying incredible wealth relative to other societies. Other areas are under deep persecution. Even in Europe, radical Islamists are attacking Christians. In many places it’s illegal to follow Christ. Still, there are those daring, obedient believers who find a way in by His leading. They need support. Move forward men, finding those areas of influence that the Father reveals and contribute. Give generously in resources, time, effort… however the Father’s Spirit leads.
Get off the sideline. Give like you believe what He says. Give like it’s you who needs it, since we are one body.