Excel in This Also

We want you to know 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,.. and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— …they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us… But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich… You started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5,7-12

Paul weaves truth principles into his cogent call for action, giving them punch and possibility. He is quick to commend the Corinthian church for their exercise of faith, speech, knowledge, and earnestness, but will not let them settle for doing only what comes naturally. Bolstered by the example of Jesus, and the church in Macedonia, he says ‘excel also in this.’ Would they be willing to step out in new possibilities? To give when they might prefer to keep, to entrust their little to God Who of that can make much? (Ecclesiastes 11:1-2; Malachi 3:10; Luke 6:38; John 6:1-14)

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You mean I do not do enough, Lord? Haven’t all my efforts, my service, my reaching out, my donations, been adequate? Instead of looking at our pile of goodness, and cozying into the fluffed pillows of personal ease, we are reminded in this passage to break out of what is comfortable and regular and ‘enough,’ and make a new routine of going beyond. The Macedonians, and Jesus, delighted in giving, in great affliction, for others’ sakes. Would we so open ourselves to a new, ample measure of grace, an intentional fulfilling of every God-given intention? Our challenge is to go farther and give more than what our flesh would limit, to excel in acting on the Lord’s inspired promptings, no matter how hard, no matter our dearth. What will it take to step out in unbridled willingness to be used, and to trust? Is there a new skill He would have us learn, a greater amount He would have us give? Is He calling us to a different pathway, ministry, or role, that stretches us?

Lord, beyond my means is always within Yours. Trusting Your supply, may I excel in every act of grace You have called me to give and do, for Your sake and glory. (Philippians 4:19)

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