The Apostle Paul points to the church of Macedonia as an example of the kind of giving that pleases God, advances His Kingdom, and activates His blessings in our personal lives. Notice what Second Corinthians 8:2-7 says from the Ben Campbell Johnson paraphrase:
“In the midst of their suffering, their deep joy and their poverty inspired them to give liberally to others. I witness to the fact that according to their ability – yes, even beyond their ability – they gave of their own free will. They literally begged us to take their money and take responsibility for distributing it to Christ persons in need.”
And contrary to our expectations they had their giving in proper priority. First, they gave themselves to God and then contributed to us according to his will. Now I had urged Titus, who had begun teaching you how to give, to help you mature in giving. Just as you have abounded in all the gifts like faith, the power to speak, knowledge, your love for us, and in deep desire, I hope you will also abound in giving.”
Here was a church that had experienced great hardships. They were suffering and under persecution for their faith in Jesus. Yet even in times of trouble and poverty, an attitude of giving emerged in this body of believers that became an example to the Church at large for all ages.
How could people be so motivated to give when they faced poverty themselves? How could they have such joy in giving when they were enduring such personal hardship?
When we come to believe the covenant promises that are linked with honoring God with our wealth, we can easily understand these Macedonian believers’ joy in giving. They were acting in faith to promote the Kingdom of God with their own resources and to receive the increase that God commands on all who give with the right heart.
The Macedonians were inspired to give by the promise of God. They gave to the poor, even though they were poor themselves. Why? Because they believed God’s Word, which says, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given” (Proverbs 19:17 NKJV).
We can do the same thing these early believers did. When we are facing lack of any kind, we can activate God’s promises by giving according to His Word. We can literally give our way out of lack. This was one of the truths that inspired the Macedonian believers to give, besides their desire to meet the needs of those to whom they were giving.
In the mind of the Apostle Paul, giving was such a vital subject that he left Titus in the city with this church to teach and help the believers mature in this area. Notice again the way Paul said it: “Just as you have abounded in all the gifts…I hope you will also abound in giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7 Ben Campbell Johnson).
God’s path to increase is through giving. This is totally contrary to the world’s mentality of increase. According to natural reasoning, the only way to increase is by getting. But in God’s economy, increase comes as a result of our obedience to give.
Of course, our priorities in life must be in harmony with God’s priorities as we give. Concerning this church in Macedonia that serves as our example, Paul said in verse 5, “They had their giving in proper priority. First, they gave themselves to God and then contributed to us according to his will” (Ben Campbell Johnson).