1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;
2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.
3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves;
4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 2 Cor. 8:1-4
Grace is the church’s inheritance. The Bible says: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17).
Grace is the inheritance that Jesus gave to the church. Isn’t it wonderful to have, or to own what Jesus bequeathed us?
That is why we cannot lightly “fly past” this scripture about the Macedonians. We must encamp there and see what went on with these blessed brethen.
Y’know, today, to a large extent, we do not have preachers of the gospel in church. Today what the church has is mostly worldly-minded motivational preachers. (In this group, unfortunately, there are also fraudsters and scoundrels of the basest sort). Now, motivational preachers will not talk to you about the grace of God. Grace is heavenly business and these men and women have nothing of heaven in their hearts. So they talk of this world. They will talk about the things of this world. They will talk about money and such-like things.
But I think it would have been rather stupid for Jesus to leave behind the glories of heaven and to come to earth to become a billionaire in some church! It would have been extremely ridiculous, and I am glad Jesus did not do that.
There were only two things that Jesus owned when He was here on earth. Jesus had nothing of this world, but He had something else. He had grace and truth. I don’t know about you but me, I want what Jesus had.
These noble Macedonians certainly did.
Today let us look at verse 2 of this wonderful scripture.
“1 Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”
We read in verse 2 that when the Macedonian brethren were going through tribulation and suffering for the gospel’s sake, their joy was increased!
There is something called ‘diametrically opposed’. We all know that suffering and joy are diametrically opposed. So these Macedonians accomplished a mathematical formula which even Einstein could not achieve: the marriage of two diametrically opposed experiences, suffering and joy.
That is something that can only be attained through the grace of God.
The Bible says that in rejoicing through suffering, the Macedonians demonstrated the grace of God that was in their lives!
One thing I can tell you for sure is that I am not like these Macedonians. In all sincerity I cannot say that I am happy when things are going all wrong in my life. When things are not “working” for me, I tend to fret and there are even times when I have known myself to become absolutely grace-less (and probably even plain hostile) when the pressure became too much to bear!
But the Bible states here that when the Macedonians were going through trouble, it was all song and dance in those churches. That’s the one experience I sure would love to have and to own in my life! That’s grace.
No amount of writing could exhaust the riches to be found in this tiny portion of scripture.
Let us take a peep at the second part.
“… their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”
Here we find another set of diametric opposites: poverty and liberality.
It is generally assumed that the rich should give to the poor. I also subscribe to that belief. He who has should give to him who does not have. That is Biblical.
But that has nothing to do with a generous heart. You can give away all your wealth until you scratch yourself like Job, but that does not mean that you are generous. I know of people who give of their worldly goods, but they are not generous. You can see it in the way they give. They will put you to an interview, where you can feel all the condescending fog from them descending upon you…
Let me put it this way: grace enables us to do things the way God does them. God does things willingly, joyfully and cheerfully. When you have the grace of God in your heart, therefore, the natural outcome is to do God’s will willingly, joyfully and cheerfully. When it comes to giving, you will give in exactly in that manner – willingly, joyfully and cheerfully.
God is generous. I have been saved for a long time, and I can attest to the fact that God is generous. There was a time when I thought that I needed to be financially rich in order to affirm God’s generosity. But I have learned to appreciate God’s generosity towards me, a generosity which does not necessarily have to do with him blessing me financially. Money, as the saying goes, is not everything. That is especially so with the gospel.
What God gives us is a rich heart, a heart rich in grace. This is all that matters with the gospel. A heart rich in grace will accomplish everything God needs it to accomplish.
When the Macedonians received the grace of God, they became rich in generosity.
Let us take time to examine our hearts and to see whether we are rich in grace or not. Today, let us forget for a moment our nicely-trimmed bank accounts. Let us instead look into our hearts. Are we rich there or not?
Tomorrow we will take one final look at this exciting scripture.
[Below: Grace – free as a bird!]