Tuesday, 29 September 2015
And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. 2 Corinthians 8:5
Paul is still speaking of those in Macedonia concerning their determination to give a gift for the benefit of the saints in Jerusalem. In the previous verse, he said they were “imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.” Adding to that now, he says that this was “not only as we had hoped.”
Having learned of their zeal to give, they expected this poor congregation to put forward a small amount as an offering. Instead they had far exceeded what they thought would be given. And more than that, “they first gave themselves to the Lord.” The congregation as a whole consecrated themselves to the matter, determining that what they had was set apart to the Lord and therefore everything about the gift was sacred. They put their energy, their time, and their ability into preparing the gift. The entire process was considered as to the Lord.
But Paul goes further and says that they gave themselves “to us by the will of God.” In this gift, they deferred to the directions and wishes of the apostles for how it was to be gathered and administered. Instead of insisting that they handle the process as if out of fear of it being mishandled, they trusted the apostles and their authority in the matter, knowing that they had been ordained by the will of God.
In this, those in Macedonia had followed a sound pattern of yielding themselves to God completely and wholly, understanding that it all came from Him. They trusted that it would be handled appropriately because it was He who selected the apostles and therefore they knew they would be acting in accord with His will.
Life application: The amount of the Macedonian’s love for the Lord and their trust for the apostles is evident in this verse. However, it needs to be understood that not all who claim they are appointed by God actually are. There are no apostles today. Anyone can get ordained as a minister and act in a pious manner. Christians, individually and collectively as a congregation, need to carefully evaluate each individual who seeks to obtain money from them. In all things, be willing to give heartily, but do so cautiously.
Heavenly Father, what I have came from You and belongs to You. And so help me to be wise in how I use my time, abilities, and possessions. Keep me from being stingy towards those with true needs, but also keep me from getting snookered by folks who would misuse a gift or offering I would make. As it is all Yours, fill me with wisdom to handle what is Yours with the greatest care. Amen.