And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with Godâ€™s will.Â Â Â Â 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (NIV)
Most of us have heard sermons on tithing. Itâ€™s interesting to me that I do not remember this passage as a basis for tithing. Itâ€™s working for me today!
Tithing has almost become a â€˜dirtyâ€™ word and whenever a pastor brings a message of tithing to the fellowship you can see the change in the reception of the Word of God. Arms cross, eyes roll, and ears click to â€˜offâ€™ or, at best, low volume. But as much as we may not want to hear it, are they any of us that can truthfully say that God doesnâ€™t want us to give? So letâ€™s go with Paul and talk about giving today.
Paul wants us to know that when we give â€“ God gives more â€“ His grace or love. We always want to receive more of Godâ€™s love! And He gives even in the trials. The question is will we trust God on that? Too often our giving is based on our assessment of whether we can or how much we can give. While God has given us brains to work mathematical equations, He has also given us a relationship with Him so that we are to ask Him what we are to give. Paul makes the point that it is important to ask God first and listen for His answer. Giving or giving more than God tells you is just as disobedient as not giving or not giving the amount God tells you. In my experience when Henry and I seek the Lord on what He wants us to give as a tithe or as a free offering, the answer brings a peaceful confirmation to us both. We may still be â€¦ well, we know we are walking in faith and we tell God that we are trusting Him. We may still feel shaky on this walk of faith but we do it! And God is faithful and His blessings return multiplied! We truly can not out-give God!
Jesus pointed to the widow and how she gave all. She did not give out of the â€˜leftoverâ€™ but gave before she took care of her own needs.(Luke 21) Have you ever taken that step of faith? Yes, it can be more frightening than falling backward into someoneâ€™s arms and hoping they catch you. But the payoff â€“ the blessing is bigger than I can describe in words. Look at Paulâ€™s words. He said that though the Macedonian church was in need themselves, they pleaded for the blessing to give. And they did not give what would have been expected given their circumstances. They gave abundantly in faith.
It is important to support our fellowship of Believers that we are a part. In my church when we join we pledge our support through our prayers, our attendance, our service, and our giving. God also speaks about â€˜offeringsâ€™. Like the Macedonian group who gave an offering to the ministry that Paul was doing, so we, too, have opportunities to support other ministries. My husband and I support some missions and ministries. We are blessed to be a part of those ministries that stretch around the world. There are several more that we would like to support so we pray and listen.
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.
Whatever he does prospers.Â Â Â Â Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)