May 9, 2020
- By Ed Powell
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"Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity....they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability....but they gave themselves first unto the Lord." 2 Corinthians 8:2-3, 5
God used the very trial of their faith as the means of overflowing joy and rich generosity. These believers in Macedonia were in great affliction and deep poverty, but they abounded in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in diligence, and in love! They gave liberally, beyond their means, to the needs of other churches that were experiencing great hardship. What was the secret of such a triumphant life and giving? "They gave themselves first to the Lord!"
Without this, all their liberality would have been no more than heathen virtue. They had come to the Fountain of Living Waters, and out of their innermost being flowed the refreshing waters of God's love that caused them to reach "out of their poverty" to enrich others in great need. What a tremendous testimony! They were new believers, living outside of themselves to be channels of blessings to others.
This is the key to an abundant life...to a fruitful life...to an effective life...to a life that is lived to His glory. "THEY GAVE THEMSELVES FIRST TO THE LORD!" When we find ourselves at the foot of the cross, in humble contrition, recognizing our nothingness in the light of His infinite condescending love, we will empty ourselves of all that is abhorrent to our Lord and seek to be filled to overflowing with His love and grace. That is what happened to these Macedonian believers. They had "seen the King!" He consumed the whole of their lives and God used their "poverty and great afflictions" as the means of their "overflowing joy and rich generosity." The extent of their giving was not in the amount they gave as much as in the circumstances under which they gave.
The widow's mite exceeded in value all that the wealthy gave. The giving of the wealthy was but a small portion of what they possessed, whereas the widow gave ALL SHE HAD!
That's what happens when we "first give ourselves to the Lord." He transforms our priorities from things that are temporal to that which is eternal. The focus of our lives turns from being centered on us to being focused on Christ. It's no longer the "self" life; it's the "Christ life." We no longer live on the perimeter of life but in the center, where the action is, where God manifests His presence and His power. There, believers are living in the reality of their faith, reaching out to others, and sharing a life only God can give.
They gave bountifully and zealously! Sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit, they fulfilled the need of others. They didn't consult their treasurer, for they had none. Then they insisted that Paul accept their offering and be the messenger to carry it to those in need. Wow! What hearts of love, how pre-eminently did the Lord have His place in their hearts! It bore them up above their great afflictions and deep poverty, for the joy of the Lord was their strength.
Their lives were "a sweet smelling savor to God." They were in on God's secret: "They that sow bountifully shall also reap bountifully." The secret? "They gave themselves first unto the Lord!" Is the Lord your first priority? Are you living under His lordship? God can only bless abundantly when He is sovereign!
© 2007 by Ed Powell. Used by permission.
This page was reprinted by permission from: http://www.litmin.org/dare.php?date=2020-05-09
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