10 Lessons About Sharing Through Giving for Gospel Purposes.

On Memorial Day, we often hear the phrase, “All gave some; some gave all.” Scripture also says that the greatest love that can be shown is giving one’s life for another (John 15:13). The ultimate example of this is the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on our behalf.

Generosity is an attribute of God that is sourced in His grace, a gift to us that is unearned. It is in the divine nature to give (Rom 8:32, Ps 20:4). God gives peace (John 14:27), spiritual gifts, and much more. His grace develops the same character trait in us (Gal 6:10). If you are saved by grace and walking in the Spirit, you can’t help but be a giver. As with any trait that comes from outside ourselves, when we share and give, it’s not really us; God is giving through us.

Grace teaches us no less than 10 things in 2 Corinthians 8-9 about sharing with God’s people through giving for Gospel purposes. We will only discuss the first of 10 principles this week.

Grace Compels the Christian Heart to Be Circumstantially Impartial in Giving

God’s grace to us in salvation is impartial. It is offered to all. Grace also grows us impartially, whether we have good days or bad days. In Christ, we have all experienced God’s grace in its equal, divine, and ever-overflowing nature. Christ ministered the grace of God regardless of His own circumstances, and His obedience was coupled with joy (Hebrews 12:2, Philippians 4:11-13). He is the demonstration of God’s grace in human form.

This grace compels the Christian to share what God has given them. (See 2 Corinthians 8:9, Philippians 2:5-11.) The believers at Corinth had been compelled by grace to give but had become distracted in the meantime (2 Corinthians 8:10-11). Paul reminds them that God’s constancy doesn’t change; grace operates regardless of circumstances. Paul writes of a church that is an example of this. The Macedonian churches include Thessalonica, Philippi, and Berea. Bible commentator John Lightfoot describes these churches as “baptized in the baptism of suffering,” both persecution and poverty. Hughes notes, “Truly then their liberality on behalf of their fellow Christians of Jerusalem, whose material lack was even more pressing than their own, was a manifestation of the grace of God operating in a notable matter in their midst.”

The phrase “Now brethren” in 2 Corinthians 8:1 shows Paul’s gracious approach even to these distracted and misguided believers. He encourages them with the example of another group of churches in which God’s grace is working. It is never too late to do the right thing, to know the nature of God’s grace and its function in a life in Christ. Grace is able and capable to help us know the joy of giving regardless of our circumstances. Paul’s intention is not to guilt trip or assume motives. He approaches the Corinthian believers in the certainty of grace and assumes the best.

You can’t be more poor than the Macedonian and Jerusalem churches. Yet somehow God’s grace operated in their lives in a way that’s humanly unthinkable. It compels us to give all of ourselves and our resources to God and each other. God’s grace is never cheap. No one would dare put a price on it, so who are we to decide what it can or cannot dictate for us to do?

The Thessalonians were one of the Macedonian churches who gave with a disposition of joy. As they followed their spiritual examples, they became like them, in turn becoming examples to the whole geographic region (1 Thessalonians 1:6-10). They did not allow dire circumstances to dictate their generosity. In a double paradox, they “knew an abundance of joy in their rock-bottom poverty” as they shared with others. By doing so, they showed themselves to be truly Christ-like. This all resulted in further gospel progress (1 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Jesus saved us richly (Ephesians 1). We share and give on that same basis, regardless of our circumstances.

Application Points

  • Is God’s grace operating in your life as it did in the Macedonians? Do you claim circumstances as a rationale for why you don’t share in giving? Christ gave His all for us; it is a natural response to give our all back to Him - including our time, talents, and resources. It is never too late to do the right thing, to know the nature of God’s grace and its function in a life in Christ. Grace is able and capable to help us know the joy of giving regardless of our circumstances. Spend time with the Lord (and your spouse if you have one) to talk about what it means for you to sacrifice in giving and sharing with God's people.
  • Note Paul's gracious approach when discussing the topic of giving. Do you discuss this topic with the same disposition? We should always first assume other believers are growing, that they want to be a giver and not a taker, because God's grace is operating in all of our lives. A "no pressure" approach makes all parties into cheerful givers.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Mark 12:41 – Widow who gave all that she had to live.
Quotes to Ponder

“The example of the Macedonians is a practical proof that true generosity is not the prerogative of those who enjoy an adequacy of means. the most genuine liberality is frequently displayed by those who have the least to give. Christian giving is estimated in terms not of quantity but of sacrifice.”

— R. Kent Hughes