Week 35, Day 5
September 2, 2022
Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they went beyond our expectations; having given themselves first of all to the Lord, they gave themselves by the will of God also to us. So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 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 8:1–7)
There is a startling thing that happened to me today as I was reading our text. How is it possible that what could be said of the Corinthian church was, “since you excel in everything - in faith, in speech, in knowledge…” Just a few days ago we were reading of a church in tumult. They were immoral, divided and filled with sin. Yet here they are now, receiving this praise? This is, I believe, evidence of the powerful work of Christ’s Spirit in the church. We tend to dwell on where people are now, and forget that God is doing something incredible in their lives. He is doing a transformative work in all of us who believe.
The Corinthians must have responded to the message of Paul. They are now excelling in all manners of their faith.
The next step is for them to make like the Macedonian church, that was incredibly generous in the midst of great trial. Paul now challenges them to excel in the grace of giving as well. They are invited to keep make the progression towards Christ-likeness.
Generosity is often the most difficult area in our lives to excel at as well. Especially when there are great trials. But the Macedonians are generous, and Paul invites them to this as well.
As we seek to personalize this, I have a few questions. How am I progressing towards excellence of faith? Here are some questions to lead us towards that: What areas might Paul compliment you and your faith? Do you excel in faith? How have you grown in your trust and devotion to God? In speech, what does the overflow of your heart say about its condition? Do you seek the Lord and knowing his will and way?
I could go on, but each of these invites us forward, in our next steps with God. Perhaps we need 1 Corinthians and eradicate sin, starting there. Or maybe it is bridging the divide in the congregation that might bring harm and effect our witness. There are big areas to address, but there are also these important things that we ought to be excelling at as well.
Grow in the grace of giving. Giving love, sharing our resources benevolently for the good of the church and others, caring for those in need. Give grace abundantly. Giving financially for the progression of the Gospel.
That’s the mark of the Macedonians. It’s what Paul hopes to have become of the Corinthians, and you and me too.
Jordan Ickes, Minister of Etna Green Church of Christ.