The Blessings of the Compassionate Heart (3)

The Blessings of the Compassionate Heart (3)

“They gave themselves…to the Lord and then to us.”         2Co 8:5 NIV

Have you ever encountered a homeless person, given them some money, watched them shuffle away and wondered, “Have I just paid for their next drink or drug, or rewarded laziness?” In some cases you may be right, in other cases wrong. So what should you do? In Second Corinthians chapter eight God gives us a plan we can understand and follow. The Macedonian church did it this way: (1) Both the well-off and the needy participated. They all gave, even those in “extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity…[and] gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (vv. 2-3 NIV). (2) They gave gladly, not under pressure. “Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing” (vv.3-4). (3) Their giving flowed from their devotion to Christ. “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us” (v.5). They didn’t give to impress others, or for a tax deduction, or to get the preacher off their backs, or because they “felt bad” for the needy. No, it was a natural response to being in love with Jesus. (4) The church leaders received, oversaw and distributed their collective giving. They didn’t give naively, trusting the integrity of the unknown and unproven. Their leaders handled and distributed their gifts openly, consistently, and with accountability. They knew the finances were handled honestly “in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men” (v. 21). Bottom line: you can give without loving, but you can’t love without giving to those God loves.

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