Early in this Chapter, God tests Abraham by demanding his son of promise, Issac. God was refining Abraham’s character by commanding his loyalty and charging him to live in obedience. Anytime God tests us it’s for our ultimate benefit and good. Testing and sacrifice are just part of our journey towards self-discipline and holiness. Sacrifice is offering back to God the only thing I have to give… a love-gift of myself…of giving the best I have to the One I love the most.
What’s it mean to excel in the grace of giving? Here the Apostle Paul was encouraging the Church in Corinth to be generous in their giving to others. Generosity can be a learned behavior…we see our parents or family acting unselfishly with their money or time…and we do the same. But on the other hand, dire circumstances we’ve lived through can also determine how generous we are, or not. Fearless generosity is an investment into God’s Kingdom work and excelling in this grace of giving is the start of that bold approach.
This time of year we are inundated with requests and pleas for donations. They call on the phone, they mail us fliers, they approach us in public places. All these overwhelming requests can turn anyone cold towards helping others…to the point of thinking, ” I can’t give, I can hardly get by with what I have!” Paul addressed this in II Corinthians 8:2 – where he explained even though the Church in Macedonia was going through severe trials and extreme poverty, their joy of the Lord overflowed and welled up into rich generosity towards others. God has proven over and over again that you can’t out give Him. So allow joy and thankfulness to fill your heart this Holiday Season as you give generously to others…not out of your lack, but out of His riches.
The other day I helped at the local Food Pantry organizing all the donated food that’s coming in this time of the year from the many food drives going on… there was a mountain of food to find a place for. It struck me how willingly and joyfully the people of this area are in donating to this great cause…and because of their generous nature, many will have food on their tables this holiday season. We can’t be tight-fisted, just giving the bare minimum of what we have to others…for it’s really not ours in the first place…the Lord has blessed us with it. Instead, we need to be happy and glad to give, for it tells us in II Corinthians 9:7, “God loves a cheerful giver.” This Scripture shows us that they gave generously of all they had, not holding back but giving with a open hand and a big heart. I pray we may become that type of people.
Anytime sacrificial giving is mentioned, people get real antsy. It’s not that we don’t want to give to Kingdom work…it’s just that we’re selfish. Now you’re probably thinking I’m talking about money…No, I’m not! I’m talking about something far more valuable to you than money…it’s your time. We’ll happily give to charitable organizations, relief funds, and soup kitchens…but ask us to volunteer our time and that’s a different story. It says in II Corinthians 8:12, “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.” God wants you, not your money…He wants you to volunteer rather than just donate to the cause…He wants you to give sacrificially of your most valuable resource…yourself.