The story is told of a man traveling through Korea following the war. One day he met an old man and a young boy as they were struggling to pull a plow through their field in preparation for planting their crops. He was amazed at their friendliness and positive attitude. As they were visiting together, he learned that they were believers in Christ and that their little church building had been destroyed during the war. Survivors in the congregation agreed to rebuild their place of worship–each member contributing what they could. The old man and boy had no funds to contribute; but they did have an ox which they sold and save the proceeds toward the building of their chapel. Even though they now had to pull the plow themselves, their gift was not so much a sacrifice in their minds as a delight.
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, he spoke of the generosity of the Macedonians. In 2 Corinthians 8:2, he said that even though they were “in a great ordeal of affliction, their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.” He went on to say that “according to their ability, and beyond their ability they gave of their own accord” (vs. 3). What caused such generosity of spirit? Verse five provides the answer: “they first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.” Their giving was an outgrowth of their faith and love. They had captured the spirit of Christ in their hearts. As an example of such giving, Paul pointed to Jesus, saying, “For you know the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
All giving is measured by Christ’s gift. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). Giving provides a blessing to the giver as well as to the recipient. In giving, we are the greater beneficiaries. Giving has a way of lifting us higher–causing us to look beyond selfish pursuits. It is, in fact, the fulfillment of the royal law to love your neighbor as yourself.
In giving, we must look beyond that which is financial. Most think in terms of dollars and cents. While it is important to practice good stewardship with our money, we must not limit giving to the financial realm. Paul said, “If I give all my possessions to feed the poor…and do not have love, it profits me nothing” (1 Cor. 13:3). In other words, it’s not the act itself but the act conjoined with the right attitude which is important. The kind of giving the Lord desires is that which comes from the heart. God desires that we give freely from the heart–not out of compulsion or manipulation. And, do not forget that the number one thing God wants you to give is your heart. Purpose today to give yourself to God and to others in the spirit of Christian love. You will be blessed for it and, in the end, it will not seem so much a sacrifice as a delight.