“Moreover, brethren, we inform you 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.”
II Corinthians 8:1-2
Because of the Grace we’ve received, we do not ask how much we “have” to give; we ask how much we “get” to give.
Affliction and abundance. Poverty and liberality.
Such polar opposites when viewed with the natural mind; yet, today’s Manna reminds us of what happens when Christ’s example is our “modus operandi” (v.9) and His Love our motivation.
The Macedonian Christians were poor. And, it’s evident from Paul’s words that they were definitely “suffering saints” who lived in places like Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, etc. Acts 18:17 gives us a glimpse of some of the ill-treatment they’d received, which had resulted in their impoverished conditions. Yet, it’s clear their outward suffering had not reduced them to a victim or orphan’s mentality; instead, in their “great trial of affliction (Grk. ‘thlipsis’—‘pressure, anguish, burden, persecution, tribulation, a narrowing or constricting, etc.’)” they’d experienced an “abundance (Grk. ‘perisseia’—‘superabundance, surplus, overflowing supply, excess, enough and to spare, etc.’) of joy.” Simply put, their joy was like a gushing geyser in spite of their hardships and heartaches they were going through. Glory!
Dear Pilgrim, shouldn’t that also be the case in our own lives?
Shouldn’t we also experience such “abounding joy” and “liberality of love” when we’re going through our own “fiery furnace” experiences?
Most assuredly we should.
What, then, was their “secret”?
Paul clearly shows it by saying “they first gave their own selves to the Lord and unto us by the Will of God” (v.5). Simply put, they were heeding Jesus’ call to “seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, knowing that all things (including the money they’d give for the suffering saints in Jerusalem) would be given unto them” (Mt. 6:33; Phil. 4:19). Hallelujah!!
Read those words again: “They first GAVE THEMSELVES TO THE LORD”—the act of surrender. Then, they “gave themselves UNTO US by the Will of God”—the gift of service unto others. Truly, the way we worship is the way we serve and the way we serve is the way we worship (Rom. 12:1).
And, what is it that inspires/convicts us to such “absolute surrender” (as Andrew Murray called it)?
Again, quite simply, Jesus’ giving of Himself to us by “becoming poor so that through His poverty we might become rich” (v.9; Phil. 2:5-11). And, it is His Love for us and our reciprocal love for Him that produces within us a “readiness (eagerness) to will” (v.11a) and a “willing mind” (v.12a) that results in “cheerful, generous giving” (II Cor. 9:7). May we, like the Macedonian Christians, be Christ’s “consecrated conduits of blessings” to others today.
By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated September 9, 2010