Fabulous Generosity; 2 Cor 8

One way to discern the extent to which we are experiencing the grace of God is to see whether we are becoming channels of it to others. One very practical way is generosity. We could almost (but not quite) substitute the word "generosity" when talking about God's grace. He has lavished immeasureable goodness on us freely. He is incredibly generous in his kindness.

Therefore for people to claim to be recipients of grace but not to start to be like this themselves raises a big question mark. Do they really know the grace of God? Then why aren't they starting to mirror it in a small way themselves?

This was a main issue for the church in Corinth. They had pledged money to help persecuted, starving Christians in Jerusalem. But, having started to go off the boil spiritually they hadn't delivered on their promise. In stark contrast, it seems, to the churches in Macedonia. About them we discover that, although extremely afflicted and very poor, their joy in God's grace resulted in overflwoing generosity (8:2). They begged to be allowed to give, contributing entirely freely beyond their means (v3). 

That is the chief connection we have to make: they give because of their joy. Joyless giving is pretty pointless. God doesn't like grudging giving, still less giving out of peer pressure or to be applauded for doing so. That is self-love, not worship. Churches can encourage people to give for all the wrong reasons, but there is only one right reason: joy-fuelled appreciation and appropriation of grace. 

Indeed Paul describes giving as a "act of grace" (v7). In other words, this is how grace acts. It passes on blessing. It reflects God's overwhelming generosity. C.S.Lewis called people "sub-creators". Being made in the image of God, we have creative capacity because he is creator. Paul says here that people who are made new creations in the image of God have generous grace-capacity, because he is gracious. 

So he holds up the mirror of authentic believers in Macedonia and invites the Corinthians to take a good look. He is doing the same for you today as you read this. Do you know his grace? Are you experiencing the joy of grace? If so, how are you doing in generosity?