And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us.
Thoughts for Today:The giving that truly pleases God is not based upon the amount we give, or even what percentage of our income it might represent. Scripture tells us God looks at our hearts, and then, either accepts or rejects our gift based upon our motives. In Acts 5:1-11, we find the account of Ananias and Sapphira, who sold a piece of land and pretended to give the entire proceeds to the church. However, it was a pretense for the purpose of receiving the praise of other people. Swift judgment came from God. We too can be guilty of this behavior, if we superficially do something pretending to please God (or help others), when in reality (in our hearts), we have an ulterior motive.
Unfortunately, the heart behind an act of giving is not the primary emphasis of many campaigns to raise charitable contributions. Why? Because the greater focus is upon how much is raised (and the corresponding good that will be done), rather than on the heart motive of why it's given. But that was not the attitude of Paul, nor of the Macedonian churches. In our passage today, Paul tells us they "gave themselves first of all to the Lord", and then by His will to do His work. If this was the condition of a church's heart, no pastor would ever need to plead for "special offerings". When people have an open heart, they typically have a generously open wallet as well, and therefore look for any opportunity to meet need and serve God through giving.
Questions to Ponder:Do you have a "generously open wallet"? What is the condition of your heart? Will you give yourself first of all to the Lord, and then let Him lead your giving?