Sunday, 27 September 2015
For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing,
2 Corinthians 8:3
Speaking of the giving by the Macedonians, a group who had little to begin with, Paul says “I bear witness” about them. He knew them and he personally knew of the circumstances concerning the gift they had offered. It was “according to their ability.” This means that they gave as they were able. It is a precept he will lay down in the next chapter for those in Corinth (and thus for us when we give) –
“So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.” 2 Corinthians 9:7
If this was all that was recorded of their giving, we would know that they had done well and that their gift was a sufficient one to represent them as a faithful flock. However, this is not all that is said about it. Paul continues by saying that they gave “according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing.” In the Greek, there is a stress which is lacking in the English. Paul briskly omits the verb and so the adjective stands alone. In this then, he shows the superlative nature of the gift.
Regardless of the size of it, it was one which actually exceeded the normal ability of these people to give. In other words, they would have to do with less in their normal lives in order to be able to afford this gift given according to the call on their spiritual lives; they exceeded the budget for any normal operating of their day-to-day life. And not only that, but they did it without compulsion of any kind. The gift was mentioned, the reason for it was given, and without any external pressure, they simply were moved to act.
Life application: How willing are you to tend to the church, pastor, or Bible teacher who ministers to you? Have you given according to your means in order to ensure that their needs are met? They are working in the most important matter of human existence in order to bring God’s revelation of Himself to you. Be sure to act in a manner which is in accord with that by gratefully returning care and provision to them.
Lord God, in reading about the gift which the Macedonians gave to the saints in Jerusalem, I am reminded that they gave beyond their ability and without compulsion. Please give me the same heart towards those who have ministered to me, or those who are partly cared for by me in foreign lands, serving as missionaries. Grant me the willing heart to take care of the physical needs of those who take care of others’ spiritual needs. Amen.