Too Poor To Give
Too Poor To Give?
2 Corinthians 8:1-8
We began our study of 2 Corinthians with a main theme in mind. That theme was based upon the promises of God and we used 1:20 as our theme verse.
2 Cor 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Chapter 8 and 9 of the Book deal primarily with giving money. There are several promises associated with giving found in the Bible. One of my favorites is found in Luke.
Luke 6:38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again. Although there are promises dependent upon our giving, they should not be the motivation of our giving. If we employ that mindset, we will become like the hyper-faith or health and wealth movement. We do not give because we expect a blessing, we give because God blesses.
The Apostle Paul has been led of the Lord to take up an offering for the church at Jerusalem. This church was growing at an incredible rate, with numbers like 3,000 and 5,000 at time accepting Christ, being baptized, and then added unto the church. Many of these new believers were not from Jerusalem. They had made the trip for the Feast of Pentecost, and ended meeting Jesus. There was no church for them to return to in their own cities, so they stayed in Jerusalem. Now the people of the church did sacrifice to help one another out and we read about that in Acts 2 and 4.
Acts 2:44-45 And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. At least at the beginning there was not a spirit of selfishness among the brethren. When we finally do see that attitude come into the assembly, God deals with it in a very harsh manner (Ananias, and Saphira). Even though the people were willing to sell and share what they had, they could not absorb the poverty that was brought upon them by so many souls being saved.
One of the areas that Paul visited on this church planting and fund raising trip was Macedonia. The main churches that we are aware of in this region was the church at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea. All three of them were very young, and very poor churches. This is a wonderful argument against the one that says, “I cannot afford to give.” These churches were too poor to give, but they gave anyway.
1. The motivation. Paul goes against conventional wisdom here by using another group’s behavior to try to duplicate that behavior in another group. We are told not to motivate our people by mentioning what the church down the street is doing regarding giving, etc. He is not stooping to any gimmicks of fundraising. He is not trying to create a competition to get one church to out give another. He was simply reminding the Corinthians that they had received the same gift of grace that the believers of Macedonia had been given. That is a good reason to give. One of the effects of saving, life-changing grace is a desire to give generously to the cause of Christ. Why? So others may have an opportunity to experience grace. Selfishness is seen when we love the worldly more than the eternal, and we cannot let go of what we already have in hand. These folks gave according to one of the key giving principles.
Matt 6:33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Giving because of grace did not hinder them even though their circumstances were severe. There was a great trial of affliction. This has the picture of pressure, like how juice is taken from a grape. It was a war torn region, a region where the Roman government was really trying to establish power, and place of great persecution. Have you ever been under pressure? Financial, spiritual, etc. One of the hardest things for us to do in times of difficulty is to put others before ourselves.
2. The marks. What did the churches of Macedonia have to show for their sacrificial giving? According to the modern day preacher, they should have had a monstrous building and they all should have mansions with luxury cars in the garage. But that is not what the Bible teaches. The first apparent mark was that they had an abundance of joy. Abundance—more joy than they needed. We are talking about an inexhaustible supply. Giving to the cause of Christ made them bubble over with joy.
2 Cor 9:7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver. Crushing pressure comes but they have overflowing joy. What is produced by the pressure of affliction? More joy! Count it all joy…
Deep poverty. When we read about the prodigal son, we say that he had to hit rock bottom before he realized how far he had gone. He was so bad off he was competing with the hogs to get something to eat. That is an extreme picture of poverty. The Macedonians were no better off than the believers at Jerusalem but yet they gave. Luke 21:1-3. I wonder if it would change our attitude about giving if we thought that Jesus was watching us. Their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. How can poverty abound to something good? Because we are operating in the realm of grace. It is supernatural. That is why by faith we can trust God by giving more, and He meets the need. It is truly giving out of our poverty when we say, “God you are going to have to do it.”
If you are too poor to give, then you have not experienced God’s grace.
Feasting on the riches of His grace,
Resting ‘neath His sheltering wing,
Always looking on His smiling face
That is why I shout and sing.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus - Sweetest name I know
Fills my every longing, keeps me singing as I go,