“I got you a present!” my two-year-old grandson shouted excitedly as he pressed a box into my hands. “He picked it out all by himself,” my wife smiled.
I opened the box to find a Christmas ornament of his favorite cartoon character. “Can I see it?” he asked anxiously. Then he played with “my” present for the rest of the evening, and as I watched him, I smiled.
I smiled because I remembered gifts I had given loved ones in the past, like the music album I gave my older brother one Christmas when I was in high school that I really wanted to listen to (and did). And I realized how years later God was still stretching me and teaching me to give more unselfishly.
Giving is something we grow into. Paul wrote, “But since you excel in everything . . . see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7). Grace fills our giving as we understand that all we have is from God, and He has shown us “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
God generously gave us the most unselfish gift of all: His only Son, who would die on a cross for our sins and be raised to life. Any who receive this ultimate gift are rich beyond measure. As our hearts are focused on Him, our hands open in love to others.
Paul motivates the Corinthian church by citing the inspiring example of the Macedonians. He’s also asking for a generosity that will demonstrate unity between churches. Division between the Jewish and gentile believers in Jesus plagued the early church. By giving to the church in Jerusalem, gentile disciples of Christ in Corinth and Macedonia would be contributing to a Jewish congregation, sending an implicit message of love and acceptance. Paul further notes how the Macedonian believers faced severe trials, yet gave out of “overflowing joy” and “extreme poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:2–3). This joy is a natural response to “the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches” (v. 1). Our circumstances don’t destroy our ability to give, and they can’t steal the joy that flows out of the grace God gives us.