After sharing the wonderful testimony of the generous spirit of giving by the churches in Macedonia, the apostle Paul encou-raged the believers in the church at Corinth, “But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace (of giving) also” (2 Cor. 8:7).
The word translated “abound” in this verse has the idea of “be outstanding, be prominent or excel.” Apparently, the believers in the church at Corinth—while excelling in the grace-gifts of faith, speech, knowledge, zealousness and love for the apos-tolic team—had fallen behind in the grace-gift of giving. Hence, the apostle Paul felt fitting to urge them to also excel in this grace. Can we excel in the grace-gift of giving?
I came across a story about excellent giving in the African nation of Uganda. One day, a village church there was con-ducting a Thanksgiving Service. Many believers brought with them the produce of the land to present to the Lord as their offering of thanks for His grace and blessings.
However, a 12 year-old girl was feeling deeply sad. She wanted to give to the Lord but she couldn’t because she was extremely poor. When everyone left after the service, the little girl remained there. The pastor mistook that the girl wanted something and gave her some ground-nuts offered by the worshippers, but she declined. Then she went to a house in the neighbourhood and sold herself as a slave to them. She brought the $20.00 to the pastor as her offering. Astonished, the pastor said, “Little girl, did you steal this to give to the Lord? Return it to the owner!” “I don’t have anything to offer to the Lord,” the little girl replied, “but by selling myself as a slave, I can now offer to the Lord.”
While we don’t have to go that extent like the little in Uganda to give to the Lord, we can excel in developing the grace-gift of giving to the Lord.
We’ve witnessed from the testimony of the churches at Mace-donia that adverse circumstances—great trial of affliction and abject poverty—needn’t have to be impediments in excelling in the grace of giving. The apostle Paul testified for them “that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality (gene-rosity)” (v.2).
Like the believers in the Macedonian churches and the little girl in Uganda, we can excel in the grace-gift of giving.
Generous spirit of giving can and must be cultivated.