First lets listen to the scripture reading for today! 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 " Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives."
So the Macedonian christians were wonderfully generous even though they didn't have much at all - they were poor but gave generously - beyond what they could afford. That sounds a lot different than the rich guy in the story from Sunday that Jesus told who had an unexpected surplus and hoarded it - never thinking to be generous!
This reminds me of a haunting statistic I have read several times. The percentage of income given by Americans to charity was greater during the time of the depression than it is now! That stings! My first thought is that I would give more (even a greater percentage) away if I had more! Such is not the case! So what is the key to being generous - giving even when I don't have much?
These verses call me to a subtle but profound reality that is foundational to me being a disciple of Jesus! If we listen closely we hear a clue to this exceptionally Jesus-styled way of living. He says, "What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God."
They gave themselves first unreservedly to God and then God gave unreservedly through them to others! What does "first giving myself unreservedly to God" look like? It sounds alot like what Jesus said, "Seek first the kingdom of God and all this other stuff will be taken care of as well!"
"First, giving myself unreservedly to God"......... that sounds like a great way to start today!
What could this look like for me today? For you?