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People talk about having a “life verse” from the Bible. The verse works like a personal mission statement for people.
I believe my life verse is Luke 6.38. This verse is a promise from Jesus:
“Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back” (Luke 6.38).
This verse was first applied to me by a very successful insurance agent at an awards banquet. On that night, I received an award from the business department at Southeast Missouri State University.
I was a very young preacher and Mr. Haas was a contemporary of my parents. It is interesting how his words from the lips of Jesus have defined my life for over 50 years.
If you read the context of Jesus’ promise about giving, these words are set in the midst of loving enemies and forgiving wrongdoing.
The way I apply Jesus’ words to my life has been that the givers always become the receivers. A person with a giving attitude and actions will always receive in his or her inside far more than they ever give to others.
The Message to the Corinthians
Paul wanted the Corinthians to become givers. He wanted them to know the absolute joy of giving to those in need.
He wrote, “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia;
“For during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.
“For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means,
“Begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints
“And this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us” (2 Corinthians 8.1-6).
Paul used the churches of Macedonia to encourage the Corinthian church to excel in giving. Some of the issues are as follows:
(1) The Christians in Jerusalem were literally starving because of a famine in Israel.
(2) One of the reasons why Paul defended his ministry in Corinth was to assure the church that he would handle their money with perfect integrity.
(3) The churches of Macedonia were some of the poorest churches in the region. Yet, they were generous givers.
— The words of verse 2 describe the inside condition of the Macedonian Christians. Take notice of how Paul describes their giving heart: “Their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.”
They were extremely poor, but their abundant joy in Christ made them wealthy and generous. In short, they knew the promise of Jesus where generosity is abundantly returned to the givers.
— A paraphrase of the Greek in verse 4 is this: “They exhorted us, calling us over to their side, and begged us for the grace of sharing.”
First and Second Corinthians are viewed as some of the strongest examples of persuasion in the Bible. Paul used every effort to change the minds of the Corinthians.
Verse 4 states that the Macedonian churches used their persuasive abilities to be given the grace of giving to the church in Jerusalem.
— At the heart of their giving was that “they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us” (Verse 5)
All great giving stems from a relationship to Jesus. People who give themselves to the Lord are quite able to joyously give to others.
I recently wrote about Greg, a young man who became a follower of Jesus and is now a pastor. Greg was a teenager in the church where I was pastor in the 1970s.
Ten years ago, Toni and I visited the Louisiana town where I served. The brightest moment of our trip was a visit with Greg.
His clothing let us know that he was poor, like when he was a teen. However, his smile and generous spirit would have compared favorably to the Macedonian Christians of Paul’s day.
He worked a secular job and served other poor people in that Southwestern Louisiana town. I believe with all my heart that Greg knows the truth that givers receive an amazing inside condition.
The church in Corinth valued certain gifts of the Holy Spirit. Paul wanted them to value one more gift – the gift of generous giving.
He wrote, “Now as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking” (2 Corinthians 8.7).
The greatest motive for giving is the example of Jesus. Paul wrote, “For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8.9).
If we need a reason to be generous and giving in every aspect of our lives, this chapter presents it.
(1) The example of Jesus should overwhelm us. Our rich Savior became poor, so that we might become rich.
(2) God has endowed us with gifts that come from a relationship with the Holy Spirit. These gifts enable us to do things we never could accomplish in our own strength.
As a personal note, I was a complete “loser” before I met Jesus. This is not false modesty, but a fact. Every accomplishment I have has come from the work of the Holy Spirit in my life.
When people think about what I have written about myself, I think they will say “Amen” in reference to their own lives.
(3) People like the Macedonians and my friend Greg in Louisiana encourage good giving.
I add to these heroes the people who work faithfully with people in recovery. They are people who give large amounts of time and energy to help the “still suffering addict.”
(4) Jesus’ magnificent promise is that if we give, he will give to us. The biggest gift he gives to generous givers is a joyful heart that resembles the character we have considered with the Macedonians.
May We Pray for You?
Maywood Baptist Church has a prayer team that is honored to pray for you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or private message me on Facebook with your request. We will pray for you.