Consider The Macedonians!

When it comes to giving, many of us are very lazy givers! When it comes to giving, many of us do not connect giving as an act of worship! If we could consider the Grace of God as our foundation for giving, it would transform how we give, what percentage we give, and why we give!As Paul was anticipating the Corinthian Church’s involvement with the special collection for the Jerusalem believers, he wrote to encourage them to follow through with their previous commitment. Instead of simply reminding them of their commitment which was made over one year prior to his second letter to the Church, he also included a wonderful example for the Corinthians to consider. That example was the Macedonians.2 Corinthians 8:1-9I. Grace Giving Gives with a Purpose (Vs. 1)These people were thankful for the Grace bestowed upon them by Jesus Christ. That is the way we should give each week! Like these Macedonians.- We deserved wrath, but God gave us mercy!- We deserved death, but God have us life!- We deserved condemnation, but God gave us Salvation!- We deserved the guilt of sin, but God gave us forgiveness through His Son!- We deserved Hell, but God gave us Heaven!GRACE = God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense!II. Grace Giving Gives out of Poverty (Vs. 2)NOTE: “How that in a great trial of affliction” This word has in mind the trouble that comes from suffering persecution.These Christians had experienced the effects of war and problems that come after these wars which involves affliction, grief, hardships, and poverty!Deep poverty describes the “rock bottom destitution (Warren Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, vol.1 – p.655).”III. Grace Giving Gives Eagerly (Vs. 3-4)The Macedonians gave within their ability, but they also exceeded their ability to give! They stretched themselves in the area of giving – for the glory of God.According to Paul, these people literally begged him to take their money! What an example of faithful and sacrificial giving.IV. Grace Giving Gives Sacrificially (Vs. 5-9)In order to give sacrificially, the Macedonians gave themselves to God and submitted themselves to their pastors. They were a faithful example of submitted Christians who were used for God’s glory.ILLUSTRATION: Ivan The GreatMany years ago, Ivan the Great was the ruler of Russia. He did a lot to expand the Russian Empire. In fact, he was so busy fighting battles that he did not have a wife or children. His advisors were worried about this. They knew that if Ivan were to die he would have no heir to his throne, thereby leaving the country in chaos. Ivan told them he did not have time to find a bride, and asked them to pick a wife for him. The advisors searched all of Europe, and finally determined that the best choice was the daughter of the King of Greece. The King of Greece loved the idea because it would give him an alliance with Russia. However, there was one condition. He required that the man who married his daughter be of the same religion, which was Greek Orthodox. Ivan agreed to this stipulation. Ivan, accompanied by 500 soldiers, marched to Greece to be baptized into the Greek Orthodox Church. In a sign of loyalty to Ivan, the 500 soldiers asked if they could also be baptized. The church leaders agreed. 500 priests were brought in so that they could all be baptized together. Finally, the day came and all 500 soldiers and 500 priests got ready to wade into the Mediterranean Sea. At the last moment, the head priest realized that they had a major problem. Professional soldiers were not allowed to be members of the Greek Orthodox Church. All of the priests met together to come up with a solution. Finally, a solution was reached and everyone waded out into the sea. When the time came to be baptized, every soldier drew his sword and held his sword and arm out over his head. As they were baptized, their entire body was immersed, except their arm and sword. Every part of the soldier’s body was dedicated to God, except the arm he fought with (Jarrod Everson, Principles of Stewardship, Lesson #7).”That sounds like the people within the church today! We dedicate every part of our lives to Christ except our wallets! John Calvin once said, “Where riches hold the dominion of the heart, God has lost His authority (Cited by Jarrod Everson, Principles of Stewardship, Lesson #5).”In verses 6-9, the Macedonians served as an example to the Church at Corinth! They gave with a desire to honor Christ for what He had done for them. In this section of Scripture, we see how our giving is directly connected to the sacrifice of Christ. This also provides us with a clear understanding of how giving is a pure element of worship!When we consider the great and marvelous sacrifice that Christ made on our part – it should motivate us to give. When we consider the pain of the sacrifice of Christ, it should motivate us to give until it hurts.Verse 9 – For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich. CONCLUSION:ILLUSTRATION: What are you willing to do for $10 Million Dollars? – (Jarrod Everson, Principles of Stewardship, Lesson #5)A 1991 survey once asked, “What are you willing to do for $10 Million Dollars?” The results:25% of Americans would abandon their entire family.25% of Americans would abandon their church.23% of Americans would become prostitutes for a week.16% of Americans would give up their American citizenship7% of Americans would kill a stranger.3% of Americans would put their own children up for adoption.With such horrible sacrifices for money, how many of us would be willing to lay down our worldly possessions and money in order to reach the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ?TIPS:1. When sitting down to pray about what percentage you should give – remember to calculate the percentage before taxes. Don’t give your money based on your take home pay. Give your money based on your GROSS amount.2. Always pray about how much to give! Make good decisions – but sacrificial decisions.3. Always seek to be obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.4. Be willing to put God above and beyond other financial endeavors. This will take a large commitment – but it is possible.5. Be cheerful in your giving!2 Corinthians 9:7 – Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.