RADICAL GIVING: A Lesson from the Macedonians
Let’s face it – it is difficult to give regardless of our years of being a believer.
This reality flows naturally from our desire to provide, preserve and protect what is ours. This difficulty actually intensifies as we age and our income increases. Why? Because deep inside, we want to have a better life.
Consider a young professional regularly giving to the Lord. When he gets a spot promotion, his income increases and so are his perceived needs and wants. But that is normal.
Another case is when you get a windfall income – like an unexpected bonus or a special gift. The challenge in the mind is that we always believe that we deserve the blessings and it is ours.
Again, this is not necessarily bad, nor is it a sin. It simply puts into perspective the challenge that we face as God prospers us. To help us guard our attitude of giving, let us look at the lessons on how the Apostle Paul emulated the Macedonians in 2 Corinthians.
First, giving is part of grace – the unlimited and undeserved favour from God (see 2 Cor. 8:1). This proves to us that it is really natural for us to avoid giving. Without the grace of God, any giving is really forced and obligatory. True giving is out of gratitude and faith that it is God who blesses us, thus, He deserves our all.
Second, giving is not connected to what you have – but it is based on who you believe. Paul’s example of the Macedonians provides this context.
The Macedonians at that time were experiencing severe trials as Christians. They were being persecuted and living in extreme poverty. In spite of the difficulties, Paul said the Macedonians are overflowing with joy.
Come to think of this, Paul’s example was more like comparing the Macedonians to the people living in the slum areas as well as to those who have been impoverished by war. But amazingly, Paul said the Macedonians were still overflowing with joy! What is more, they were very willing to share whatever is left for them to other people!
Clearly, their extreme poverty is not a hindrance to give and share because their joy of knowing Jesus radically transformed them inside out! It is their faith in the person of Jesus, which allowed them to give beyond what they can.
Third, giving joyfully is a privilege. Paul described the Macedonians as volunteering to give. Verse 4 says “they urgently pleaded to share”. This attitude is something that is so unnatural even among Christians in general, today.
It’s as if, in our most difficult situation, we are still asking people what their needs are and how we can help them. But doing so only goes to show our understanding that it is more blessed to give to others!
In summarizing what I just shared, it is clear that giving goes beyond our natural capacities.
Usually, people who have an extra amount to give, struggle to give. How much more difficult it is to give when you have nothing? As such, unless a person experiences God’s grace, he cannot experience a radical transformation from the inside.
Let me share my personal experience that helped me recognized the “Macedonian giving”.
During one of the Sunday services while I was worshiping God, I heard the Lord impress to me to give everything I have in my coin purse.
That Sunday, I did not bring my wallet. But I decided to obey and emptied my purse when the offering bag came. I was extremely at peace and happy to obey what God said.
If I recall, my coin purse had about more than P400. The next day, God gave back more than P2,000! How did that happen, you might ask? I went to a briefing where I was one of the resource persons and I was so surprised that I was given an honorarium! Praise be to God! This was the time I understood why we give. Any giving is actually radical giving – a kind of giving based on the extravagant love of Jesus Christ.