We’ve looked at giving yourself to God first, giving in response to Jesus’ gift, giving with sincere desire and love, and giving under grace instead of a commandment. Today, we’re going to look at how God’s grace working in us can lead us to give as much as we are able – and sometimes even beyond our ability to give. God’s power is able to do much more than we can even imagine, especially when it comes to giving.
Giving Beyond Your Ability
When we look at the early Church and the first Christians, we do not see an emphasis on giving a certain amount every week. The examples we see of God’s grace working through those early churches are examples of extreme generosity and love for one another. Look at what Paul had to say about the churches in Macedonia:
1 Moreover, brothers, we make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the assemblies of Macedonia; 2 how that in much proof of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded to the riches of their liberality. 3 For according to their power, I testify, yes and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord, 4 begging us with much entreaty to receive this grace and the fellowship in the service to the saints. 5 This was not as we had hoped, but first they gave their own selves to the Lord, and to us through the will of God.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5 (WEB)
Even though the Christians in Macedonia were poor themselves, the joy of the Lord moved them to give very generously to help the poor Christians in Judea who were suffering a famine. They didn’t just give the extra money they had at the end of the week. They didn’t even give just what they could afford. They gave far beyond their ability – to the point where they chose to deny some of their own needs in order to help others. It’s in this act of generous giving that we see the power of God and His love when allowed to work in a Christian’s life.
The Macedonian Christians gave so much that they astounded Paul and his fellow workers. Paul says the Macedonians gave much more than he had even expected. They gave freely and gave even beyond what anyone could reasonably expect them to give. You might expect someone who is wealthy to give away some of their extra money even if they’re not a Christian. But you’d never see a rich person give up so much that they would even begin to deny their own needs for the sake of others – unless they followed Jesus and fully gave themselves over to God. The Macedonians gave beyond their ability, despite their deep poverty, and they were happy to do it! That’s the power of God’s grace of giving at work.
God’s power is able to accomplish much more than we can even imagine – more than even Paul could imagine. But it can only happen when we give ourselves fully to God’s will. Then, and only then, can we see this kind of abundant generosity working in the Church again.
However, please understand that this is not a command for all Christians at all times. We are to give sacrificially as we are able, but God has made it clear throughout the Bible that we have a duty to care for our families and a duty to pay anything we owe. We should not neglect those duties in order to increase our giving.
We can, however, choose to increase our giving by denying some of our wants. Cable or satellite subscriptions, eating out, a bigger/nicer house than necessary, a nicer car than necessary, or anything else that is not necessary for the survival and well-being of us or our families are some examples of wants that we can sacrifice to increase our giving.
On the other hand, there may be occasions where God’s Spirit leads us to give beyond our ability just as the Macedonians did. Denying our own needs for a time is a great example of sacrificial giving, but we must consider such choices carefully and be sure they are in accordance with God’s will. We must also discern when God’s will for our giving changes and adjust accordingly. This requires much prayer and wisdom.
A Challenge to Give
I’m going to personally challenge you to follow the example of the Macedonian churches – which is really the example of Christ. Give yourself fully to God. Relinquish all your rights, desires, and goals to Him. Seek the counsel of His Spirit, and follow His will. Then, give. Give generously! Give, even beyond your ability to give!!! Choose to deny your own desires and wants so that you can give even more. Choose to even deny your needs for a time.
But I also challenge you not to do this in an attempt to be holy if your heart is not in it. If you do not feel joy in the giving, then don’t do it. When you give under compulsion and grudgingly, you do not give out of love. Your gift becomes meaningless because there is no love with it.
But if your faith is responding to the grace of God – to the glorious gift of His Only Son who has freed us from sin and death – then give as much as you can and even more! Allow God’s power to work through your life to do more than you can even expect or imagine. Let His love flow through you so that you can give with joy despite your own situation. The testimony of your generous giving will show the power of God’s love working in your life, and many will give thanks and believe because of the grace God has given you. Do not give so that you may boast in your generosity and righteousness. But know that your giving will still send a powerful message even if you’re not the one speaking it. And remember that God sees what is done in secret. He will reward you for the love and sacrifice you give.
I pray that all of us who believe may give as generously as the Macedonians did. I pray that we will give ourselves to God first. And I pray that we will then give in response to Jesus’ gift out of love and appreciation for Him. Please join me in this prayer as we all seek God’s will and desire to show His love to the world.