Give Beyond Your Means
"For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord..." – 2 Corinthians 8:3
Paul is describing the incredibly giving nature of the Macedonian churches, that they give not only according to their means but also beyond their means. What does it mean to give beyond your means?
We each have a certain amount of resources at our disposal. However, it would be flawed to believe that we earned these resources through our own hard work alone. For God gives us these things, and therefore everything that we have belonged to God in the first place–we are simply taking care of these things as a steward.
Giving according to our means is to give the excess of what we have so we can still remain comfortable with our own lives. It's a form of convenient giving. There's not much loss to us in our quality of lives.
Giving beyond our means is to give until it hurts. We are giving more than what the world considers logical to give. We give to the point that life becomes inconvenient. It's unpleasant to us. It's sacrificial.
It's not easy to give beyond our means. Very few are able to do so. Honestly, I don't know if I can do this.
"I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine." – 2 Corinthians 8:8
Giving is not a command. You cannot command someone to give, for that would be a demand. Rather, there has to be a willingness and desire to give.
"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich." – 2 Corinthians 8:9
Jesus is the ultimate example of giving willingly. He was rich, and he gave us his riches. He didn't have to give to us, but he did. He wasn't commanded to give to us–rather, he willingly gave his life for us.
"For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have." – 2 Corinthians 8:12
Furthermore, it's not about what you give. This is a stark distinction between the world's economy and God's economy. The world might judge you based on what you gave. The world might rate the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation as the ultimate form of philanthropy because of the amount they give.
Not so in God's economy. Jesus did say that the widow who gave two coins (Mark 12:41-44) gave far more than the rich who gave in greater amounts because that's all that she had.
It's not a comparison between the total raw amount. Rather, it's based on your heart, your willingness, and what you have.
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