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. (2 Cor. 8:2-4)
The Macedonian church were the first to respond with their gifts to the troubled church in Jerusalem. They were not a rich church but they were able to give generously to their needy brothers in Jerusalem. They did so with much joy and pleading to Paul to join in this privilege of sharing and service. They gave sacrificially, beyond their ability.
What is the secret to the generosity of this poor church in Macedonia? It is found in the second part of verse 5: “They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.”
These poor people in the Macedonian church consecrated themselves to the Lord that is why they responded with such generosity to God’s people in Jerusalem. They understood that material things are a gift from God, to be used for His glory. They were materially-poor but spiritually-rich.
Poor people may be cash-poor but they can be very rich spiritually. If you consider the poor people around you today, you will notice that their values are closer to kingdom values. They show humility, service, and concern for others. You will see a willingness to walk the extra mile and even sacrifice for the sake of serving another human being. There are poor people who live a generous life of giving, good stewardship and service to others. Their generosity may not necessarily be in the form of cash but in sharing whatever resources they have—their time, labor, strength, and the testimony of their resilience in the midst of hardship.
Rich people give out of their disposable income but the poor give sacrificially. The Lord honored the widow’s offering of her last mite more than what the rich put in the temple treasury (Luke 21:1-4). In the sight of the Lord, it is not the amount of money you give but your willingness to let go of your possession and say, “it belongs to the Lord and I am only entrusted with everything I have and I can give it away as the Lord summons.”
As Christian fundraisers, we do not despise the small gifts coming from our poorer constituents. Whatever the amount, whether it is only a dollar, we acknowledge and give thanks. At CBN Asia, the producers of weeknight TV program, The 700 Club Asia, they have ministry supporters who are market vendors. They go to the ministry office in the business district in their worn-out and smelly clothes but they are treated with respect and gratitude as they offer their bag-full of coins and old bills that smell of fish.
How can you encourage the poor among you to be generous towards God?