For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means”(2 Corinthians 8:3)
Paul wanted the church in the wealthy trading center of Corinth to give generously to his mission to Jerusalem. To encourage them he noted how freely the churches in poorer Macedonia had already given.
So, how were the Macedonians able to give “beyond their means?” How is that even possible? It is possible because if we have faith, then God will provide. If we have faith, we can give even more than we might think we are able.
In their book, The 33 Laws of Stewardship, Dave Sutherland and Kirk Nowery point out three ways we can live into this kind of faith. The first is to get rid of a scarcity mindset.We have more than enough already on hand to pay for all our hoped for mission and ministry! But if we need to, we can in faith call on God for as much as we need.
Second, “when you think about giving, and specifically when you make a commitment to give, don’t focus on your limitations, but on [God’s] limitlessness.” How much faith does it take to believe that God can do more than we can? Why trust in yourself, when you can trust in God?
Finally, extend the limits of your spiritual comfort zone. We are here to assist the Holy Spirit in establishing the Kingdom of God. Business as usual won’t do the job. Can we be like the Christians in Macedonia who gave beyond their means? And not just giving beyond our means. How about—in faith and with God’s help—praying beyond our means, engaging with church and community beyond our means, ministering to the least and the lost beyond our means, and testifying in thought, word and deed to God’s meaning in our lives beyond our means.
We are called to be stewards of the abundant Grace we have been given through Jesus Christ.
Jim Wells, Wisconsin United Methodist Foundation