10 Lessons About Sharing Through Giving for Gospel Purposes.

We will continue to study how the flock cares for itself and is instructed by grace in 2 Corinthians 8:4-6.

The word “grace” begins this section in verse 1 and also appears as “favor” and “gracious” in this passage. Since God’s Word is unchanging, grace teaches every believer how to give in the same way through the Spirit of God. The verb “gave” reverberates through descriptions of intention, motivation, and methodology of how the Macedonians gave.

Grace Compels Us to Share and Give with a Proper Disposition

The Macedonians gave proportionately according to their means and even found new ways to give beyond their means. They gave willingly of their own accord, joyfully and sacrificially. They made giving to other believers for Gospel mission a priority.

These believers were “begging” Paul to help provide for the needs of other Christians; he wasn’t begging them. Most other letters in the New Testament don’t address the topic. In a church where every member is being Spirit-governed, giving shouldn’t need to be discussed much.

The word “urging” carries the idea of calling one alongside to give urgent aid. The Macedonians sought partnership with passion. They aggressively wanted to participate in giving. Only grace can cause the human nature to desire giving so urgently. It was not so planned out as our budgeted giving, and it wasn’t seasonal. This was a lifestyle. They wanted to support the progress of the Gospel together. Neither did they specify what ministry use their gift was applied to. Their giving was not compartmentalized.

Jerusalem was the mother church of the first century, and she needed help so her Gospel influence could continue. Grace taught the impoverished Macedonian churches, when they learned of another place that was worse off than themselves, that grace could be ministered even by them.

The word “support” in verse 4 is where we get the word “deacon,” meaning servant. This service is an act of worship. Saints means “holy ones.” All Christians are a family with the same positional standing in Christ, so we seek to interdependently minister to one another. We must never forget that we can learn from other believers who are being taught by grace. Likewise, churches can learn from one another.

Verse 5 describes true worshipful giving in the phrase “they first gave themselves to the Lord.” Only giving like this is an act of worship. Submission to God and His Word must happen first, then it is supernaturally natural to give to God’s people and God’s purpose. "Gave" is the main verb of the passage, because all these ways of giving only happen when you first give yourself to the Lord. Giving becomes second nature when devotion to the Lord is first nature. Paul is more thrilled with their devotion than their giving.

Devoted people don’t need to be exhorted to give. Recent methodologies of church fundraising in the last 50 years have been very burdensome and performance-based. Grace instructs the believer what to do when they have devoted themselves to God.

Sacrificial giving doesn’t necessarily have to be painful; it should be joyous. In Christ’s model of giving himself, the joy overshadows the sacrifice (Hebrews 12:2).

The Macedonian believers had learned from and followed the giving example of their leaders. The Corinthians were encouraged to do the same again. It’s okay to have a model and submit yourself to progressive growth as that person is growing. Giving is not exclusively a private matter, because we can also learn from each other.

The plural pronoun in “our Lord” reminds us that Christianity is communal. You are not a free agent. Invest your life in learning from a church family, because the grace of God is teaching you.

One reason it is not common to talk about this aspect of church life may be that it’s not easy for people who have been hurt by other leaders to renew their passion to follow another person. Ask God to reveal to you a model of this grace. Paul mentions Titus as a contemporary model of grace. We all have a cloud of witnesses around us who know the true grace of biblical giving.

Application Points

  • The priority in this passage is devotion to God first and to His people second. Then grace instructs our hearts to desire to give. Is this the order of priority in your heart and behavior?
  • How do you seek to interdependently minister to one another in your church family? Who are you learning from as they are being taught by grace? With whom are you sharing what you have been taught? How do you think our local churches can learn from one another?
  • Do you believe sacrificial giving has to be painful, or should it be joyous? Allow the grace of God to teach you how the joy of giving overshadows the sacrifice.
  • Have you been hurt by a spiritual leader, so that you find it hard to renew your passion to follow another? Talk to God about how He would have you heal in this area. If you struggle with entrusting yourself to a church family, ask Him to reveal to you a model of this grace.

Tools for Further Study

Cross References to Explore
  • Romans 12:1-2, 1 Thessalonians 4:9-11 – Devoting ourselves to God