If you have siblings, you know that rivalry is a very strong reality when it comes to performance, chores…anything! And if you do not have siblings, you got some of the same pressures from your friends – how you dress, how you act, the way you talk. Well, there is both positive and negative pressure…and Paul gave one part of the family of Christ a little challenge in 2 Corinthians 8 from the Macedonian churches:
“3 I can tell you that they gave as much as they were able. They gave even more than they could afford. No one told them to do it.4 But they asked us again and again—they begged us to let them share in this service for God’s people. 5 And they gave in a way that we did not expect: They first gave themselves to the Lord and to us. This is what God wants.
“8 I am not commanding you to give. But I want to see if your love is true love. I do this by showing you that others really want to help. 9 You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You know that Christ was rich, but for you he became poor. Christ did this so that by his being poor you might become rich.”
The Corinthian church had committed to giving a year ago…Paul just was not sure where they were at with it. So he prompts them with the example of a body of brothers and sisters in Christ. The Macedonians trusted God with extreme generosity that amazed Paul. Would the Corinthian church give willingly? They had not only the example of a sister church, but also of Christ.
Giving does not always involve money. Sometimes it is time, energy, or what you prioritize on your “to-do” list. Today I noticed that my creativity in cooking was getting a little out of bounds, and eating away at my prayer time. So I prayed to give that to God, and be aware of when I need to scale back and enjoy basic foods with some spiritual nourishment. This will vary for everyone, but sharing our personal struggles helps to encourage and spur-on other believers. Examples can be powerful motivation – out of rivalry, yes, but also out of gratitude and encouragement.
God, thank You for the encouragement of the Macedonians, which makes me take a second look at what I am willing to give to You. What point do You call us to give in life? How far can we go with our trust in You? A lot farther, I am sure! Please help me to learn to trust You in the little things, and thank You for helping each step of the process, and providing the greatest example. Thank You! To Your glory, Amen.