Unquestionable Character: A 21-day Study in Stewardship.

Grace of Giving

What is the 'grace of giving' (2Co 8:7)? Pastor and author Gene Getz points out how the Macedonians exhibited the grace of giving in a way that was spontaneous, eager and sacrificial.

Nowhere in Scripture are Christians commanded to give away what is absolutely necessary for their own existence. But the believers in Macedonia gave anyway. There was no coercion! They were eager to help meet other Christian's material needs! But a more significant reason than human need prompted this sacrificial generosity. They gave 'themselves first to the Lord' - which is the larger context in which Christians are to use their material possessions. It involves, first of all, presenting our bodies as 'living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God' (Ro 12:1).

Getz points out that Paul encouraged the quality of gracious giving as a sign of the believer's maturity in the body of Christ.

When the Corinthians were converted to Christ, they were given an abundance of 'grace gifts' (see 1Co 1:4-5,7). However as Paul enumerated the ways in which the grace was manifested - 'in faith, in speech, in knowledge' - he broadened the concept beyond spiritual gifts. He referred to complete earnestness and love (2Co 8:7), qualities that are comprehensive and reflect spiritual maturity among all members of the body of Christ. In other words, Paul wasn't simply referring to a spiritual gift of giving bestowed on certain individuals in the Corinthian church (see also Ro 12:6-8). He was exhorting the members to grow in the spiritual quality all believers must develop if they're going to remain in the will of God.

This story from stewardship theologian T.A. Kantonen (1900-1993) illustrates that quality, the grace of giving.

In a seminar on Christian social ethics we were discussing the use of money when Dr. Otto A. Piper, then a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, told us this incident from his post-war work of collecting funds for the relief of the needy in German universities. Dr. Piper described to a group of Princeton students the conditions of abject poverty in which German students were struggling and asked his hearers to do what they could to help. The next morning a young married couple, both graduate students, came into Dr. Piper's office, placed three hundred dollars on his desk and said, 'We heard your talk last night. We have talked it over, and this is our answer to your appeal.' He was astonished at the generosity of the gift and said, 'Are you sure you can afford this much?' They replied! 'We have saved this money to buy some things we need! But! God has been good to us and we can get along. Those people in Germany need this money much more than we do.'