These are two things I have to admit I’m still working on in my life. Perhaps it comes from being the youngest child in my family. Perhaps it just comes from my sinful, selfish nature. But generosity and giving are two things that are definitely not natural to me. They should be, though. These things should flow naturally out of all Christians.
It certainly was the nature of these Macedonians. According to Paul, despite their troubles and their poverty, they begged to be allowed to give to the poor in Jerusalem. You almost get the impression that Paul had told them, “No, no. It’s totally okay. You don’t have to give. Others are giving and it should be sufficient to meet the needs of the hurting in Jerusalem.”
But the Macedonians begged Paul to be allowed the privilege of giving. That’s how they considered it: a privilege.
It’s so easy when we’re going through our own problems to focus on ourselves. To become selfish and think only of how to make it through our own trials. But the Macedonians refused to focus on themselves. Rather, Paul says of them,
They did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. (5)
That’s what giving ultimately is all about. It’s the giving of ourselves to God, and to others. Or as Jesus put it,
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind (Matthew 22:37)
Love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39)
So if you are stingy, if you are tight with your money, the question you need to ask yourself is this: “Am I truly loving God with all my heart, soul, and mind? Am I loving my neighbor as myself? Or do I love my money more?”
The other question you need to ask yourself is: “Am I so concerned with my own problems, that I can’t see past myself? Or am I like the Macedonians, who could see past their own troubles to the needs of others?”
Where is your heart today?