July 7, 2018
There is only one place in Scripture that mentions any certain people group specifically having power. Yet in 2 Corinthians chapter 8 Paul was instructing the church at Corinth regarding “the power of the Macedonians.” About a couple of years ago this caught my eye in a very special way.
As often as I continued to come across it, the Holy Spirit began opening my eyes more and more to it. As if He commanded a ray of light upon it from heaven illuminating it like the rising of the sun.
There were many churches in those days, and if I remember right I think the number of them were about 1,200 or so in proconsular Asia during the Roman Empire. Yet none of them were regarded my Paul as having any special power.
We do know though that the Berean’s were mentioned as having a special quality. We read in Acts 17:11 KJV:
“These were more noble than those in Thessolanica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
We also understand as well in reading about the 7 churches in Revelation, they all had a different quality and personality. However, were none of them ever mentioned as having any special power.
What was this power Paul was so impressed about that it needed special mention to the Church at Corinth, about another Church as a teachable example. I know that whenever I read this chapter, I keep getting a deep down inside sense that Paul was very proud and in awe of these people.
It is clear that they were comprised of the very poorest of the land. Remember Paul’s heart was for the poor. In Galatians 2:8-9, when in the earliest days of his ministry, he met up with Peter, James and John “who seemed to be pillars in the church.” They perceived in him “the grace given to him,” by the Lord.
Who then appointed Barnabas to partner with Paul on their missionary trip to the gentile nations, and that they wanted them to “remember the poor,” which Paul replies, “the same which I also was forward to do.”
Paul had a deep love for the poorest of the poor which what the Macedonians were, he recognized a special “grace of God was bestowed upon them.”
“How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy, and their deep poverty, abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power I bear record, yea, and beyond their power, they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave themselves to the Lord, and unto the will of God.” [vss. 2-5].
Now let me begin to pour out my heart to all of you. There are many of you who do not have riches, many who barely can eek out a living. Your lives are full of debt, poverty and lack. Yet, your hearts are still burning like the hot fires on the altar in the tabernacle.
You wish deeply in your hearts that you can give more, or do more.
Instead you go away sad like the rich young ruler, but in the diametrically opposite way. You go away sad, because you would give all to the Lord if you had it to give. Your hearts are broken and wish all the time that you had something more to give. Considering yourselves disqualified from this great joy.
God has a different economy that we need to understand, that is completely different to how we see and do things. He measures things His way and “looks at the hidden man of the heart” rather than to what a person thinks is worthy to give by this world’s standards. Listen to how Paul addresses this issue.
“For ye know that the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that ye through His poverty might be rich.” [vs. 9].
The first 2 steps towards this power is given here:
“And this they did, not as we hoped but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto the will of God.” [vs 5].
The 3rd step:
“Now therefore perform the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to will, so there may be a performance also out of that which ye have. For if there be first a willing mind it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not.” [vs.11-12].
In essence He is saying that if the willingness is there the gift is present to perform it. The giving is not in what you do not have to give. The willingness in the making up your minds to give what you already have is the first spark of the flame of giving that turns into an “all consuming fire.”
Give away what you already have in hand. That is the point. God is not asking you or I to come up with something we are unable to give. Remember whatever you give from your hearts and willing minds “is accepted of the Lord.”
I think of that saying, “it is the thought that counts” that is in view here, because that is exactly what the 3rd step is that makes all giving acceptable to God.
How many of us have had our children come home with something their little hands have made as if it was a million dollars to them? Do you remember the excitement they had to give it to you? They were thrilled beyond measure and could not wait to give it to you. Because in their little hearts they believed you were going to be head over heals at their little primitive gift.
How you saw it was nothing more than a few pieces of sticks held together with Elmers glue and string? Yet your hearts swelled up with colossal love as you took it in hand and profusely commended them on their generosity, and your hearts were bursting with exploding love!
The motive of their little hearts was the gift! The big ear to ear smiles, and how after they went their way, walked like they were the kings of the earth in that rich joy of giving.
Oh I will never forget those powerful moments that still flood my heart with the greatest of earthly joys. The “poor in spirit” are the ones “that see God,” and “those that humble themselves as little children.” Yes these are the ones that enter into the secret of giving.
Do you see what I am trying to show you, that it is what you have in hand. Some have time to give, and they have gifts to exercise in the will of God for what is near them. Yet others can only do so much as pick handfuls of wild flowers to give to those they love from a nearby field, because they cannot purchase them.
The list is endless, but if you can take to heart this day regarding the 3 steps Paul spoke about, you will begin immediately to operate in that special grace of “the power of the Macedonians,” until you have done all to give yourself away to the Lord Jesus Christ, and to the will of God, with a willing mind.” Then you will become an unstoppable force of giving in the same ancient way of “the power of the Macedonians.”
This IS giving in its most Christ-like form and “you will become like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”