“But just as you excel in everything in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
– 2 Corinthians 8:7
Certainly the economy continues to have an impact on
giving, which is precisely why Paul’s words written 2,000 years ago are as relevant as ever. Paul encourages the Corinthians to help support the Jerusalem poor who had suffered from persecution and famine. When he wrote about excelling in giving he had the Macedonians in mind as his example.
Although the Macedonians were experiencing extreme poverty, they demonstrated rich generosity, giving “beyond their ability”. They did not give out of compulsion, but on their own, even pleading for the “privilege” of sharing their resources with fellow believers. We see their motivation in 2 Corinthians 8:5, which says they gave themselves first to the Lord. So great was their desire to serve Christ that they would not let their economic situation prevent them from taking part in the Lord’s work.
Paul emphasizes the attitude of the Macedonians–their joyful, willing, and earnest attitude–which led them to give sacrificially. The example set by the Macedonians, both in attitude and action, was an encouragement to the Corinthians. It serves as a powerful example for us as well of what it means to “excel at this grace of giving.”