There is a secret to generous living: First, give yourself to the Lord and then to His church (2 Corinthians 8:5). To get at the heart of Paul’s message here, we need to put things in their historical context. Paul extended the gospel throughout the European region known as Macedonia, where he planted the churches that became the most successful of all his ministry, calling them “my joy and my crown” (Philippians 4:1). But the church planted in the prosperous port city of Corinth became a problematic church; the two letters that Paul wrote to them have the purpose to correct those issues. One issue was that the Corinthians had promised to participate in a general collection for the poor churches of Jerusalem but had failed to fulfill their commitment. So here Paul uses exhorts, or challenges, the Corinthian congregation by comparing them to other churches that have discovered the secret to generous living. Paul seeks to awaken in them the desire to participate in the privilege of giving. Above all, the secret is to live a life devoted first and foremost to the Lord Jesus. How does this message challenge you today? What might be marks of a congregation that have “first given themselves to the Lord”? In what ways might we challenge one another in this pattern of generous living?
Each summer we at Prince of Peace go “back to basics” as we take a fresh look at our relationship with our loving God and how that shapes our lives in this world. This summer as we go back to basics we consider the topic, “Generous Living.” God our Father has given great and wonderful gifts to His children. He is the most generous Giver, giving even His Son, Jesus Christ for us. All blessings ultimately come to us through Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man. As God’s people, we learn that God’s design is that we neither hide nor hoard any of the gifts we have freely received from Him. Rather, God invites and calls us to share His gifts with those around us. Our willingness to share what God has given us with others becomes an expression of our gratitude, all flowing from grateful hearts shaped by God’s grace.