A recent survey of our MemberPartners turned up a few important suggestions we plan to incorporate this week. One comment in particular said, “You haven’t taken full advantage of the opportunity to teach about stewardship and the spiritual practice of giving as part of our faith walk.” So to continue with God Loves a Hilarious Giver, we begin today with a teaching on the preeminence of the power of Grace to overflow into joyous giving. That is Grace Turned Outward at its best. For an example of this, we turn to 2 Corinthians where Paul is writing to the Corinthian Christians about the Macedonian churches who refused to be left out of the joy of giving just because of their own poverty. Read on:
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. (2 Corinthians 8:1-5)
Can you imagine begging for the opportunity to give? Most of us with lots of church experience are used to the pastor begging the people to give, not the other way around. Something special must have definitely been going on with these Macedonian believers. They were filled with joy and the eagerness to give in spite of their poverty and their many troubles. How could this be?
First it says a spirit of generous giving doesn’t come from outside us. It has nothing to do with our physical condition, our circumstances or how much money we have or don’t have. It generates strictly from within and spills over into “rich generosity.” This is none other than our theme here at the Catch: Grace Turned Outward. God’s grace, by definition of what it is, naturally turns outward to others. It spills over. I can’t sit on the grace of God. I can’t hoard it or keep it to myself. If I am, then it’s something other than grace I am imagining.
Secondly, it expresses its joy by giving more than expected — more than they could afford. Like the story told about a man who said, “I could give $10 and not even feel it.” To which the usher replied, “Why don’t you give $20 and feel it?” That’s what these Macedonian believers did. They gave until they felt it, and they loved that feeling! It didn’t hurt; it felt good!
And finally, they considered it a privilege to give. A true test that God has touched a heart is one that considers giving a privilege. And here’s where all this springs from: “for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord.” In giving ourselves to the Lord, we lose ourselves in Him, so He already has everything. To give a tangible gift is simply to confirm what has already happened. It’s all His anyway. This is where the hilarious giving comes in. We must let go, and when we let go is when we get it, and there is laughter and abandonment. We have been taken by the obvious! We’ve been holding on to what wasn’t ours to begin with, and what a relief to let it go!
So we are jealous for you to have the pleasure of giving. Don’t put it off. We are currently featuring our work to expand the kingdom of God worldwide, which is in its biggest expansion ever, increasing services with boots on the ground in 141 different countries, and we would welcome your contribution toward our goal of $15,000. Throughout the week we will be sharing our plans with you — those that have already begun and those that are in process. We must provide new ways to bring the message about Jesus and how His gospel relates to the deep, unresolved needs of our generation and that of the millennials (and all generations) for love, meaning, community, peace and justice. Whether you give to the Catch or to another worthy cause, we urge you to give as the Macedonians gave, of their own free will, beyond what they could afford, with great joy, as you have given yourselves to the Lord.
Another suggestion from our survey was: “No one can tell their story better than they can.” I will be telling mine this week, but we’d like to hear from you as well. Do you have a Hilarious Giving story of your own to share with us? Send it to me in a reply to this email. We’d love to include it with others we receive.
Click on the picture below to enjoy our God Loves a Hilarious Giver video and ask if He might have you invest (or further invest) in the Catch today.