The previous article on our topic of grace for almsgiving revealed that it is possible for each one of us to possess this blessed empowerment. What great news that this grace can be received, matured, and activated in us. It is by no means reserved for a select few we would call philanthropists.
Nor is it limited to a select need such as that of the Judean church at the time of Paul’s writing to the Corinthian believers. Rather, it can become a lifestyle—a generosity of spirit that reveals itself not only in the giving of financial aid, but in a great variety of expressions.
As mentioned in part 1 of this blog, the Apostle Paul first credited the generosity of the Macedonian Christians to “the grace of God bestowed on them.” (II Corinthians 8:1) Strong’s Concordance defines grace (‘charis’ in the Greek) as “a graciousness of manner or act, especially the Divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in life, including gratitude.” Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary adds that “grace speaks of favor on the part of the giver (God) and thanksgiving on the part of the receiver.” This grace empowers us to more fully accomplish the will of God that He might be glorified.
Bestowed or given freely to them by God, the Macedonians embraced this ‘charis.’ This example of reception of grace is a key for us. When we submit to Divine influence upon our heart (for example, while meditating on the Word of God in personal devotions, praying, listening to a sermon, or worshipping the Lord), we experience a change in our manner of life and in our actions. We become grateful for what we have so freely received from Heaven above. We experience an increase in our willingness and ability to give and bless others as we have been blessed. We are able to release fears and overcome obstacles that would hinder our obedience to that holy influence upon us. Our trust grows in our Heavenly Father, the giver of all good things. (II Corinthians 9:8; James 1:17).
As we meditate on II Corinthians chapters 7, 8, and 9 we begin to grasp a more comprehensive picture of the powerful impact of Divine grace! Grace enables us to act beyond our own natural abilities. (II Corinthians 8:1-4.)
In this year of 2022, we need not look far to find great need. There are a multitude of ways we can “give” with a liberal generosity that imitates the heart of our Heavenly Father who gave us the most valuable gift—His only Son, Jesus Christ. (John 3:16). No, we are not being asked to give up our children, but we do have vast opportunity to yield to that Divine grace (empowerment) that brings us into a new level of giving in whatever dimension the situation requires. We can give financially with alms for those in poverty or distress, we can give our time to visit those isolated and lonely, or we can give by praying for others, and so on. You and I can move under Divine influence upon our heart and with direction of the Holy Spirit. When those thoughts come to us to deliver a bag of groceries to a neighbor, to help someone meet their monthly mortgage payment, or to call someone on the phone and cheer them up, let’s respond to this Divine nudging.
In this hour, it is critical for us to understand that maturing in grace is not optional for us. We are to abound in it as II Corinthians 8:7 says: “So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge and in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.”
Herein lies another key for us. It is essential—not optional—that we have this grace completed in us. We would miss out on a very important part of our spiritual growth and pursuit of Christlikeness if we did not also abound in the grace of almsgiving. Jesus remains our greatest example of this! “For you know the grace (charis) of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” (II Corinthians 8:9).
If we can receive it, we have been given what we need to abound in this grace: Divine enablement, the Holy Scriptures, teachers to instruct and help us, the Holy Spirit as our Helper, and the ultimate example of our Heavenly Father and of Jesus Christ, His Son, into whose image we are destined to be conformed. (John 14:16; Romans 8:29).
Our next post will focus on the question of equality in giving and boundaries that protect from exploitation.