March 20, 2021
But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you—see that you also excel in this grace of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:7)
“Comparison is the thief of joy,” wise people have said. “Internal motivation trumps external motivation.” True enough, but Paul is not opposed to applying a comparative analysis in the matter of giving.
He begins chapter eight of his second letter to the church at Corinth, oddly enough, by talking about the financial generosity of the churches in Macedonia. These churches to the north, he says, overflowed with extreme generosity despite their extreme poverty. These model congregations, regardless of the harsh trials they faced, begged Paul to let them contribute to the needs of the church in Jerusalem. The Macedonian churches were internally motivated: they knew how spiritually rich they had become through the grace of Jesus Christ.
After praising the Macedonian believers, Paul turns to the Corinthians and says, in effect: “You folks in Corinth are overflowing with gifts and graces and love. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you to open your wallets!”
Like the other disciplines of discipleship, giving is best undertaken in community. It’s easier and more joyful to fast, to study, to feast, to declutter, to enter into silence when other people are committed to these disciplines alongside you. The same is true with giving. When I know that my sister in Christ is giving her hard-earned cash for the kingdom of God, it makes me all the more ready and joyful to skim off the top of my salary for the work to which we are both committed—heart, soul, and wallet.
Lord Jesus, from your grace, make me motivated to give, and encouraged all the more in this good work as I see my fellow saints serving the kingdom in this manner. For your sake and for my good. Amen.