Scripture reading – 2 Corinthians 8; 2 Corinthians 9
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Today’s Scripture reading is well known to believers as a passage where Paul taught and encouraged what I like to refer to as “Grace Giving.” Grace, essentially the favor of God, is not only the basis, but also the motivation for all we do in serving the Lord, and as we will see in today’s devotional…giving.
Remember, Paul’s first letter to Corinth presented the afflictions and sufferings of the brethren in Judea, and in particular, Jerusalem. Hearing of the physical want of those believers, Paul urged the churches throughout Macedonia to give, and share in the relief of their fellow believers. The believers in Corinth set an example of compassion and willingness to give, and pledged themselves to be gracious. Unfortunately, a year later, the apostle was concerned they had failed to fulfill what was promised (though he had boasted of them to other congregations).
Among the many truths we glean from Paul’s letter are four spiritual truths in regard to “Grace Giving.” The first, “Grace Giving” evidences the grace of God when a believer gives liberally out of God’s blessings (8:1). An unregenerate heart is naturally selfish, and not inclined to give. In fact, sinners tend to evidence two extremes: Some are hoarders, and give little to nothing, while others are narcissists, and waste their material blessings and possessions on self-centered pursuits and pleasures. A second characteristic of “Grace Giving” is joy (8:2). The believers of Macedonia, though suffering afflictions, and poverty, were described as expressing “the abundance of joy,” and abounding “unto the riches of their liberality” (8:2).
Another trait of “Grace Giving” is personal consecration. We read, the Macedonian believers “first gave their own selves to the Lord” (8:5). Having dedicated their all to the Lord, they kept back nothing. Lastly, the sincerity of a believer’s love for others is demonstrated in a willingness to deny oneself for the welfare of others (8:9). In other words, the Macedonian believers proved the sincerity of their love for Christ in their sacrificial giving (8:8). Paul summed up that principle in these words: “24Wherefore shew ye to them, and before the churches, the proof of your love, and of our boasting on your behalf” (8:24).
Closing thoughts (9:1-15) – I invite you to read 2 Corinthians 9 and search out seven additional qualities of “Grace Giving” that are found in that chapter. I close with a quote of Amy Carmichael, who served as a missionary to India for 55 years without a furlough:
“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
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