The Giving That Blesses

Title: The Giving That Blesses

Bible Book: 2 Corinthians 8 : 1-5

Author: Paul E. Brown

Subject: Giving; Stewardship



First, just for the record, let me remind us that I’m speaking tonight about giving, not tithing. Giving is what we bring to the Lord beyond the tithe. God expects every believer to do both--to tithe, and to give. As a matter of fact, in Malachi 3:8 God said to the disobedient Israelites: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? in tithes and offerings.”

When we’re to bring offerings, and how much we’re to give, God reveals to us individually as we seek his will. But there are some clear Bible guidelines to help us find God’s will in regard to our giving.

In 2 Corinthians 8 the apostle Paul was making an appeal to his friends in Corinth. Here was the situation: the saints in Jerusalem were in great need; they were destitute; and Paul was taking an offering to relieve their suffering. He was appealing to the church in Corinth to have a significant part in that offering--and in so challenging them, he cited the example of the Macedonians.

The examples of others can often encourage us. A certain farmer, wanting his hens to be good layers, went into the hen house one day carrying a sack. As the hens watched with curiosity, the farmer reached into that sack and pulled out a gigantic ostrich egg. As he held it up, he said to the hens, “Now, girls, I’m not being critical--but I do want you to see what some others are doing.“

Well, sometimes that helps. To the Corinthians--and to all succeeding generations, including you and me--Paul said, “Look at what the Macedonians have done. They have shown us the kind of giving that God blesses.“

My challenge to all of us is that we will determine this very night to pattern our giving after that of the Macedonians. If we’ll do so, we--like them--will also be blessed as a result.

Notice with me six things that characterized their giving. I’ll touch on them very briefly.

I. For one thing, they gave REGARDLESS.

Look, please, at 2 Corinthians 8:1-2: “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”

Those dear folks were undergoing a “great trial of affliction,” Paul says--and they were experiencing “deep poverty.” In modern lingo, the Dow was drastically down, the Nasdaq had almost hit rock bottom, and many people were losing their jobs--yet Paul speaks of their “joy,” reminding us that the joy which God gives to the faithful Christian is deep-seated, and is not dependent upon the ebb and flow of outward circumstances. Those Macedonians were having a really tough time in many ways, including financially--but they gave regardless, because there was an important need to be met.

In like manner, our church has important needs facing it--in our own community, and beyond--so I challenge you and I challenge myself: whatever your personal circumstances might be just now--give regardless, and God will bless you for it.

II. Also, those Macedonian believers gave LIBERALLY.

Paul referred in verse 2 to “their liberality,” and then went on to say in verse 3: “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves.” The Williams translation renders it like this: “For they have given, I can testify, to the utmost of their ability, and even beyond their ability.”

In 2 Corinthians 9:6 we read: “But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.“

I’m always moved by the story told in Mark 12:41-44:

“And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the

treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow,

and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his

disciples, and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast

more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their

abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.”

But the greatest example of giving of all time is pointed up in 2 Corinthians 8:9: “For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.”

Jesus said, in Matthew 10:8, “...freely ye have received, freely give.”

III. The Macedonian Christians also gave WILLINGLY.

As we noted, Paul said of them in verse 3, “they were willing of themselves.” Williams renders it, “Of their own accord.”

A preacher was encouraging his people to give to an ambitious project they were undertaking. He named a large amount of money, and said, “Now, I want everyone who will pledge that amount to stand at my signal.“ Then, by prearrangement he nodded to the organist and she began playing “The Star-Spangled Banner.“

Well, they didn’t have to play “The Star-Spangled Banner” for these Macedonians, because they had a willing spirit. There’s a great story in the book of Exodus. The people of Israel were enroute to the promised land, and God told them to build a tabernacle--a place of worship. In Exodus 35:5 Moses said to the people, “Take ye from among you an offering unto the Lord: whosoever is of a willing heart, let him bring it....” The people responded so willingly that the unheard of happened--they brought more than was needed, to the point that in Exodus 36:6-7 we read: “...So the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much.”

I want to challenge you dear folks of this congregation to make the unheard of happen again! Let’s you and I show such a willing heart that our commitments will go over our budget goal, thus enabling us to fund still other ministries to the glory of God!

IV. Those Macedonian Christians also gave ENTHUSIASTICALLY.

They not only were willing to give--they yearned to give. As Paul described their attitude, he said in verse 4, “Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift....” In the J. B. Phillips paraphrase it reads like this: “In fact they simply begged us to accept their gifts....”

A Presbyterian missionary to Ghana tells about a church in that country where receiving the offering is a sight to behold. Lively music is played, as each member brings his or her offering to the front of the church--and as they do so, they dance down the aisle, smiling and rejoicing!

2 Corinthians 9:7 says that “God loveth a cheerful giver.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson said: “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

V. Those Macedonians also gave PURPOSEFULLY.

That is, they had in mind a clear picture of the cause to which they were giving. I read the first part of 2 Corinthians 8:4. Now let me read that verse in its entirety, in the Williams translation: “with earnest entreaty, they kept on begging me for the favor of sharing in this service that is being rendered to God’s people.”

They knew that their money was going to be used for a great purpose--namely, to relieve the suffering saints in Jerusalem. Those of us who make up this congregation are also being asked to give to a great cause--that of reaching people for the Lord.

A great Texas Baptist layman, the late Pat Neff, once made this statement:

“All my life I have heard prachers tell their congregations to lay up treasures in heaven, but none has ever told me how to get my treasures into heaven. I had to figure it out for myself. The only way to get our treasures into heaven is to put them into something that is going to heaven. Cattle, lands, houses, stocks and bonds, oil, coal, and the like are not going to heaven. Only men, women, boys and girls are going to heaven. Therefore, if I am to lay up my treasures in heaven, I must put them to work in the mighty task of redeeming souls that will be fit for heaven.”

He was right on target. And that’s what our church’s various programs are all about--to point men, woman, boys and girls to the Savior, and to help them grow in grace. Our church has been signally blessed of God, and has been placed in a strategic location for reaching people. We have in place some great plans for outreach--plans that we as a congregation have together formulated and adopted under the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Now, as you and I give to fund those outreach plans, we are laying up treasures in heaven.

Then, one last thing about the blessed way in which those Macedonians gave:


2 Corinthians 8:5, the Williams translation renders Paul’s inspired statement like this: “They did not do so as I expected but even more; they first by God’s will GAVE THEMSELVES to the Lord, and then to me”--that is, to my Holy Spirit directed project.

That was the ultimate secret of their outstanding giving: they first gave THEMSELVES to the Lord. It may be that some of them were not saved prior to that fund-raising drive, and in the course of it realized that they needed to repent of their sins and by faith receive Christ as Lord and Savior. What the Lord wants more than anything else in this world is YOU--your heart, your soul, your life. He wants to give you a home in heaven and he wants to give you the abundant life here and now.

But probably most of those Macedonians were already saved--and what they did, as that fund-raising effort got underway, was to give themselves afresh to the Lord. They rededicated themselves to him and his service. And that’s a great way for any believer to begin a new church budget year. Give yourself anew to the Christ who died for you and saved you--and then let him guide you as you make your commitment to this year’s new budget.

A missionary to Africa told about an elderly native chieftain who was saved. Prior to his conversion, the old man had worn highly ornamental bracelets on both wrists and arms. Each bracelet represented some entity over which he had authority as the village chief. Some bracelets represented pieces of land. Others represented herds of cattle. Still other bracelets symbolized his ownership of certain buildings in the village--and so on. The day came when the old chieftain was to be baptized. The missionary led him down into the lake. A huge crowd was gathered on the shore. Just before the missionary immersed him, the old man lifted both arms for the people to see. His wrists and arms were bare. All the bracelets were gone. With tears trickling down his cheeks, the old man looked at his bare wrists and arms and said, “Jesus is chief now!“

When you and I make Jesus chief of our lives, then we’ll recognize that all we have really belongs to him, and we’ll let him guide us in the use of it--including how much of it we commit to funding our church’s ministries.


So, there’s how to give in the way that God blesses: Do it like the Macedonians did it. They were in tough straits themselves, but they gave regardless. They gave generously, willingly, enthusiastically, purposefully, and--most important of all--they gave themselves to the Lord. When God has our heart, everything else--including our money--will follow.

A church was having a huge stewardship rally. The pastor rose, motioned for silence, and said, “Friends, I have a marvelous announcement to make about our challenging budget for the coming year.” He paused for the impact of his opening remark to sink in--and then he said, “Friends, we have the money!” A buzz of excitement went through the crowd. He motioned for quiet once again, and then added: “Yes, we have all the money we need. Now all we have to do is give it!”

That’s all you and I who make up this congregation now have to do. God has blessed each of us abundantly. Some might be having a tough time financially, but even so, God has marvelously blessed you, just as he has blessed us all. So let’s each make our commitment now, to the glory of God!

Psalm 76:11 says, “Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.” The author of Psalm 116:14 declared: “I will pay my vows unto the Lord now in the presence of all his people.”


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