We want you to know brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints — and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Grace transforms. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ transforms the enemies of God into humble, reconciled saints. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ transforms, and is transforming, the lives of those saints who have been redeemed by Jesus, not by virtue of any merit in them, but merely out of the great love with which He has loved us. His grace is good, and His grace will not leave us unchanged. So where are you experiencing His transforming, and disrupting grace in your life?
In the opening verses of 2 Corinthians 8, Paul speaks of the Macedonian churches in terms of their abundant joy mixed with their extreme poverty. Does that seem to be an odd combination to you? How could both be true at the same time? We struggle with this because we often equate joy with abundant finances. But Paul points to the Macedonian churches as experiencing a joy that must come from some other place — their abundant experience of relationship with Jesus, their life giving dependence upon Him, and the transforming grace He is pouring out upon them. So...in the midst of extreme poverty, these churches joyfully gave according to their means (the tithe) and above their means (their offerings), all to the glory of Jesus Christ.
Transforming grace shows up in many areas of our life. For those who by God’s grace have come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit is active, producing and growing the fruit of the Spirit. So believers are being transformed as evidenced by their growth in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Are you experiencing the transforming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ as you grow in the fruits of the Spirit? Are you, like the Macedonian churches, experiencing the transforming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of your giving to the Lord and His work in the local church?
These questions are not meant to be a “shaking the trees” speech. They are meant to be questions of discipleship, encouraging us in many areas of the Christian life..including our giving. This is meant to be a reminder that, along with the Macedonian churches, we experience the blessing of union in Christ (life IN HIM) when we:
Find joy in all situations - not merely the times when we are experiencing financial prosperity;
Live in a state of dependence upon Him for provision/daily bread;
Decide and act in accord with God’s ownership of all things and His call to faithful stewardship.
This Sunday we will return our Stewardship Pledge during the morning offering. While we also receive offering pledges during the year toward our Building Fund and Faith Promise Missions Fund, this Stewardship Pledge is the pledge of our tithe to the Lord’s work through the ministry of Christ Church PCA. As you prepare to return your pledge, your elders and deacons want you to know we are thankful for your participation in the Lord’s work through Christ Church, and we want to encourage you to reflect on the transforming grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in every area of your life...including the area of your stewardship.
May the Lord bless you and your family. May He bless the ministry and witness of Christ Church PCA.
Grace and Peace,