The Right Mindset for Generosity (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 12)
2 Corinthians 8:1-5, 12, “Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: 2 that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality. 3 For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, 4 imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God...For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have” (NKJV).
Different churches have different cultures. Those differing cultures result in varying reputations. It takes concerted effort and encouragement to change a church’s culture and, consequently, its character. Yet, where a church’s reputation is lacking it should be a long-term goal to make necessary changes so the world sees the light of Christ shining in us as a people.
In 2 Corinthians 8-9, Paul writes the most extensive New Testament text on the subject of charitable giving. It is evident from Paul’s encouragement he wants the Lord’s church to possess a generous spirit. One way he encourages generosity in the Corinthian church is by highlighting the generous culture found within the Macedonian churches. His basic argument within these first few verses is that wealthy, but tight-fisted Corinth needs to learn a lesson from the poverty-stricken but “liberal” churches of Macedonia.
The churches of Macedonia had already made a generous contribution for “the ministering to the saints” (8:5). In Philippians 4:15-16, Paul commends the church at Philippi (a Macedonian church) for their generosity specifically. Yet, the churches in Thessalonica and Berea may have also been included in this broad reference to the “churches of Macedonia” (8:1; cp. 9:2,4). Thessalonica and Berea’s generosity is impressive because both of these churches were targets for persecution (1 Thessalonians 2:14; Acts 17:13). Persecution often brings suffering and financial hardship. Yet, despite the Macedonian’s “deep poverty” Paul describes these churches’ financial gifts with the following phrases: “riches of their liberality” (8:2), “beyond their ability” (8:3), “freely willing” (8:3), “much urgency” (8:4), “gave themselves” (8:5). This culture of giving becomes their reputation. Their reputation becomes a source of motivation!
Where does this culture of generosity start within the lifeblood of a church? Verse 12 answers: “For if there is first a willing mind...” The Macedonians were freely willing, but was Corinth? When it comes to giving, do you have “a willing mind” to give? Is it part of your mindset? Do you need to change your mind? Once it invades our mentality, it will become our manner of life. So, do you have the right mindset for generosity?