Day 52: February 21, 2014

Today's Reading(s)

2 Corinthians 8:1-7
1 We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God granted to the churches of Macedonia: 2 During a severe testing by affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed into the wealth of their generosity. 3 I testify that, on their own, according to their ability and beyond their ability, 4 they begged us insistently for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints , 5 and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves especially to the Lord, then to us by God’s will. 6 So we urged Titus that just as he had begun, so he should also complete this grace to you. 7 Now as you excel in everything—faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us —excel also in this grace.

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.



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Excelling in the Grace of Giving
by Stephen Moore, Member of Brentwood Baptist, Brentwood Campus

The Apostle Paul is telling the first recipients of this letter, the people of Corinth, about how some of their fellow Greeks in Macedonia were such good and faithful givers. He tells us how poor the Christians were in Macedonia, yet they excelled in the grace of giving.

He also points out that they gave first according to their ability and then went beyond their ability to give of their own accord. In other words, they gave out of love—not legalism. And lastly, why they wanted to give so sacrificially is recorded for us: in order to participate in the support of the saints.

Have you ever thought giving would be easier if God sent you a bill the first of each month? Maybe a payroll deduction would be easier since we would hardly even miss it. Do we view our giving as a bill we pay each month? But what if God’s currency isn’t money? What if money is just a reflection or magnifying glass of our heart toward God?

If you were to read the next verse (2 Corinthians 8:8), you would see that Paul makes it a point to say, “I’m not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also.”

Here Paul does not give an externally measurable standard of giving. He says that giving to God should be measured in the heart. We all know this, because we know… ”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son”…He gave all, for God is love.

In God’s kingdom, we see that the currency is love and the standard of giving is all. In God’s kingdom, He doesn’t want our perishable stuff, He wants a personal intimate relationship with us that will last for eternity.

We know this, but the world constantly whispers in our ear, “God is not enough, you need more, if only you had...” But it is hard to have both stuff and God, so we have to give Him our stuff so that all that is left is just me and God. We are the treasure He desires. Now that is Good News worth spreading! I can see why the Christians in Macedonia wanted so much to participate in the support of the saints.

I personally find it difficult to find the benefit without first practicing the discipline. What I’m really saying is that it’s impossible to know the joy of giving without first giving.

While I had to trust in the outcome, I must be honest that it certainly felt like a bill to pay at times. And yes, there were times when I let the bills take precedence. But for me, each time I gave, I took another step in my relationship with God. I am thankful He’s faithful, even when I’m not.

As each step was taken and the relationship grew deeper, I began to see that He didn’t want my stuff, He just wanted me. He doesn’t want me tethered to my stuff, but free to be alive in Him so I can be about our relationship and in relationship with others for His kingdom. And yes, the Good News is Good News!

Praxis

  1. Every journey begins with the first step. Give. It’s your turn, since God has already given to you first.
  2. Pray—not from a want list, but asking God to reveal Himself to you more each day.
  3. Read and study His Word—the truth of the Bible will illuminate your way and God’s currency of love will change everything for the better.

"Father, may Your joy be my joy as I learn to experience the grace of giving. Amen."


About JourneyOn Today

Today's devotional series accompanies the Spiritual Practices Foundations Curriculum which deals with 24 different spiritual disciplines. We will break for an Advent series in December and continue the second half of Spiritual Practices during the first quarter of 2015.