Have you ever met someone whose entire attitude seemed to revolve only around those things that they wanted, needed, or were interested in?
If so, then you know that this is the wrong kind of example to follow for those who want to live a life that really honors God. A much better example is found in the New Testament book of 2nd Corinthians where we read about a group of churches who chose instead to focus on the needs of others…
“Our friends, we want you to know what God’s grace has accomplished in the churches in Macedonia. They have been severely tested by the troubles they went through; but their joy was so great that they were extremely generous in their giving, even though they are very poor.
I can assure you that they gave as much as they could, and even more than they could. Of their own free will they begged us and pleaded for the privilege of having a part in helping God’s people in Judea” (2 Corinthians 8:1-4 GNB).
This passage opens up some important truths about helping people in need by talking about the example of the Christian churches in the area of Macedonia. Macedonia was located in a region just north of ancient Greece and if you’ve read through the Scriptures, you may recognize some of the cities that existed there. They included both Philippi and Thessalonica (which we know from the Biblical books of Philippians and 1st/2nd Thessalonians) and Berea (which is mentioned in Acts chapter 17).
Although it isn’t mentioned in this passage, the people of Judea were suffering through a famine during that time and this made things extremely difficult for the churches that were located there (see Acts 11:27-30). So when the churches of Macedonia became aware of the need that existed in Judea, they responded generously in their efforts to help those who were in trouble there. And this generosity was totally self-generated on their part; they didn’t need to be nagged or manipulated or forced into helping out. On the contrary, we’re told that “…they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints” (2 Corinthians 8:4 NIV).
This helps illustrate the first of two important principles about giving that we find in these verses. The first is that these churches recognized and understood that it was their responsibility to help others who were less fortunate. The next verse provides us with another important principal regarding giving…
“And they did more than we had hoped. They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us, just as God wanted them to do” (2 Corinthians 8:5 CEV).
While there are many motivations for giving and helping others, some motivations are good and some are not so good.
For example, some people may give because it provides them with a feeling of superiority. Some may give because it makes them look good in front of others. It’s also possible to be motivated to give by the smooth talk of people who are really more interested in making money than in helping out those who really need it.
In any event, these motives can all result in actions that look good on the outside but still be wrong in God’s sight. One trustworthy way to avoid these types of mistakes is to follow the good example of the Macedonian Christians as seen above. You see, the Christians in Macedonia sought God first, then they applied themselves to meet the need that existed in Judea. This is a principle that works just as well today as it did in the first century: if you give yourself to the Lord first, then the right attitude towards giving will naturally follow.
A few verses later we read this…
“If you are really eager to give, then it isn’t important how much you have to give. God wants you to give what you have, not what you haven’t. Of course, I don’t mean that those who receive your gifts should have an easy time of it at your expense, but you should divide with them. Right now you have plenty and can help them; then at some other time they can share with you when you need it. In this way, each will have as much as he needs” (2 Corinthians 8:12-14).
So the idea is that God doesn’t ask you to give according to what you don’t have but according to what you do have; simply ask God for His direction in acting on the opportunities to help others that come your way. The following chapter goes on to talk more about this subject from a different viewpoint…
“But remember this-if you give little, you will get little. A farmer who plants just a few seeds will get only a small crop, but if he plants much, he will reap much. Everyone must make up his own mind as to how much he should give. Don’t force anyone to give more than he really wants to, for cheerful givers are the ones God prizes” (2 Corinthians 9:6-7).
For those who take this approach, God has a few gifts of His own to give…
“God is able to make it up to you by giving you everything you need and more so that there will not only be enough for your own needs but plenty left over to give joyfully to others. It is as the Scriptures say: ‘The godly man gives generously to the poor. His good deeds will be an honor to him forever.’
For God, who gives seed to the farmer to plant, and later on good crops to harvest and eat, will give you more and more seed to plant and will make it grow so that you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest. Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when we take your gifts to those who need them they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help.
So two good things happen as a result of your gifts-those in need are helped, and they overflow with thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:8-12).
God is able to provide abundantly for those who use their time, talent, skill, ability, and resources to help others with the right motivations. God will provide those people with the ability to be generous in helping others and give those who receive help a good opportunity to offer their thanks to God.
Related Topic: Handling Money In A Way That Honors God