First to the Lord

“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. 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— and this,.. they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us… 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…

“You started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it… Thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you.”

“I know your readiness, of which I boast about you.., saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them…

“God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work… 

“He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God… By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission that comes from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-5,7,10b,16;9:2,8,10-11,13

There is an unbroken circle of grace, generosity, and favor that ensues when first we give ourselves to the Lord. In the scurry of needs and demands, we can skip this vital submission, even if only by unintentional neglect or in a flurry of well-intended action. But Paul reminds that our source for unselfish, Christ-like desire, the fount of human generosity, is in Him. He who gave Himself to the utmost deserves our firstfruits of surrender. We set our sights on Him and our treasure with Him, and He causes the overflow of riches and immeasurable blessing. (Matthew 6:33; Luke 6:38; John 6:11-13; Romans 8:32; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 2:6-8)

What wrangles for our attention? Rather than be overwhelmed by the vastness of want and requests around us, would we first offer ourselves to the Lord, and weigh in on His priorities? Yielded to Him, we’re free to relinquish self-directed pushing and open to His orchestration of purpose. He sharpens our senses to see where He wants us involved. He stirs righteous desire. He awakens generosity and opens the locked fist. He plants ideas and causes abounding fruit.

Would we learn the practice of pause? What can I set aside for the Lord to be first recipient of the morning me? How might my daily plans, activities, expenditures of time and resources change if I gave myself first to Him? How might my efforts point to His grace and bounty and bring Him thanksgiving?

Lord, may my every expenditure result from first giving of myself to Thee, so Your supply is spread and Your name praised.

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