Used, October 24, 1999

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Macedonian Grace

2 Corinthians 8:8

Paul here is urging the Corinthians to be liberal with their money for the kingdom work of God, particularly to help those in need at Jerusalem. (1 Cor. 16:3.) He uses the Macedonians as an example to urge the Corinthiansto godly action. Paul equates Christianity with more than godly actions; he includes the proper use of finances for God's kingdom work also.

In AD 33 (Acts 4:32-37) the saints in Jerusalem sold everything in anticipation of the Lord's words of Matthew 24 soon coming to pass. Now it is AD 60, and Paul is urging the saints, and Corinth and elsewhere, to give liberally to help the poor saints at Jerusalem. The Lord promised Jerusalem would be destroyed in that generation, and the people acted on that promise. However, the destruction did not come quickly, so the people were left in deep poverty, and others had to help them.

Vv. 1, 2, the grace of God was bestowed on the churches of Macedonia. (Grace - the desire and power to do God's will.) The result of that grace was that their affliction and poverty did not destroy their joy in the Lord. And their joy caused them to be liberal - both spiritually and financially in supporting the Lord's work.

Vv. 3, 4, God's grace resulted in willingly giving beyond their natural means. Their giving involved first giving of themselves to the Lord. The result of giving themselves was giving in every other area - this was the message of Romans 12:1ff. Paul equates giving of one's self with giving of one's material wealth to the Lord. (Faith cannot be separated from Christian works, and in this case, Christian faith is equated with giving.)

In fact, Paul goes further. He says in v. 8, "You prove your love for God by how you use your money for his kingdom work on this earth."

V. 4, gift -- the natural man calls giving his money to the Lord a burden, these people considered a gift, and it was a gift they joyfully gave. (A gift is over and above the tithe, but that is not the message today.)

V. 4, Praying us with much intreaty... In other words, they urged Paul to take the money for the Lord's work.

The natural man says, "Do I have to?" But these people said, "I want to."The natural man says, "I need to make the offer, but I hope he does not take it." These people said "Please take it."

The grace mentioned in vv. 1- 4 could be called the "Macedonian Grace," and it gives sacrificially to the cause of Christ.

V. 5, gives the reason for the attitude of v. 4: they first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

Though Paul was grateful for the way the Macedonians gave out of their deep poverty, he was much more grateful that they gave themselves first.

Note here that a mark of Christian maturity is the willingness to finance God's kingdom work on earth. Paul's message in this chapter is that we prove our love and our Christian maturity with our money.

V. 6, evidently, God had used Titus to develop Christian maturity in the Macedonians. Then the Macedonians were concerned about the immaturity of the Corinthians, so they sent Titus to Corinth. They hoped God would use Titus to do the same work at Corinth as God did in Macedonia, v. 16.

Paul's desire was that Titus would be able to lead the people of Corinth to the same Christian maturity exhibited by those of Macedonia. Thus the "Macedonian Grace" is the grace to not only give of themselves to the Lord first of all, but to give beyond their power, vv. 2, 5.

V. 7, Paul urges the Corinthians to follow the lead of the Macedonians. Paul commends their faith, knowledge, diligence and love toward himself, but they failed in the area of joyful and faithful financial support. So Paul is urging them to mature in this area also.

His words get bolder.

V. 8, Paul is not speaking by "inspiration" as he does elsewhere and in other matters. He, rather, is using the Macedonian's willingness to give of them selves and of their material possessions as his motive to speak "boldly" to them about the matter, and that matter is:

prove the sincerity of your love.

In both 7:7 and 8:7, Paul complements the Corinthians for their professed love for the Lord and their Christian zeal - they dealt with sin and cleaned up their actions. Now in 8:8, Paul tells them to prove their love for the Lord by how thy use the worldly wealth the Lord has given them. The message in chapter 8 is that the Corinthians have professed their love for God and for their fellow man, but their actions with their material possessions did not prove their love. I have no doubt that these people felt love toward the Lord, yet Paul tells them their giving did not prove that love.

Paul says the Macedonians were in deep poverty, yet they gave generously. The Corinthians professed to love the Lord a lot, and they were not as poor as the Macedonians. But they were saying they could not afford to support the Lord's work above what they were doing. So Paul points out to them that the Macedonians were in poorer conditions, yet when their giving was compared to the Macedonians, they fell short of what they professed.

Paul's clear message here to the Corinthians is that a moral life and good works is not the total of Christian life. Paul tells them that they must "put their money where their mouth is." It is the Christian's attitude toward thegod of this world, money, and his actions with that money that proves his love for the Lord.

The Corinthians pleaded that they could not afford to give, yet the example set by the Macedonians in their giving destroyed that excuse.

V. 9, the example of others is commendable for us to follow, such as the people at Macedonia, but the best example is the one given to us by our Creator.

For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ... Christ also acted by grace. It was God's Spirit who gave him the desire and power to do the will of the Father. This grace caused him to leave his riches in heaven to make his people rich.

No one in here today could be considered rich. In fact, every time I go into Lafayette on the East side of town on 9th, 18th or 21st street, I feel quite the opposite. I feel more like I live in poverty. (I realize those are not "rich peoples" homes.)

V. 9, obviously, Paul is not promoting a "Prosperity Gospel" as propagated by some. Yet it says here that Christ left his riches and lived in poverty in order to make his people rich.

Does this mean that if you will "get saved," you will win the Lotto?Does this mean that suddenly everything will come up roses?Does this mean that someone will come along and pay off our credit card bills or house or car?Does this mean that a person can continue in his "spending" ways, and the Lord will now void his laws concerning sowing and reaping?Is this the "Prosperity Gospel" as promoted by some?

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

Ephesians 2:4 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, 5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: 7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. 8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 3:7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. 8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: 10 To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, 11 According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: 12 In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.

RICH

Those in Christ are not just rich, but they are exceeding rich.

Rich means we are accepted by God the Father through the work of Christ.It means we have redemption and forgiveness of sin.It means we have an eternal inheritance in Christ.It means we are part of the working of God's will for his kingdom here on this earth.It may mean poverty, poor health; it may mean all the things the world considers the marks of poverty.

God's definition of riches and poverty are not compatible with the world's definition of riches and poverty.

The unsearchable riches of Christ means we not only have freedom to come to the Heavenly Father, but we have bold access with confidence that he is God, that we are his people, that he loves us and he hears our prayers and answers according to his will.

The unsearchable riches of Christ means that our confidence is in him, and we are able to rest in his promises. Though the Lord may bless with worldly wealth and riches, those who are truly rich will retain their complete confidence in the Lord, and not trust in the uncertainly of riches:

1 Timothy 6:17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; 18 That they do good, that they berich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

What is your attitude toward the god of this world?Despite the love one might feel in his heart, what do your actions with money prove.Do you have the true riches, Christ, forgiveness of sin and free access to the Heavenly Father?

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