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. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, 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, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 2 Cor. 8:1-5
Heavenly Father, we come before you today challenged by this picture of radical grace; and the timing couldn’t be better, as we enter the Christmas season. This one story alone underscores why we can never emphasize your grace too much. Grace is never to be counterbalanced with law, only multiplied with more grace. Indeed, through Jesus you continue to give us grace upon grace (John 1:16).
What an amazing story—the severely afflicted and extremely poor Christians of Macedonia became a model of radical generosity to the much wealthier believers in Corinth. They had so much joy, they gave sacrificially—beyond their means for the benefit of strangers. Not from guilt, not to get more for themselves, not to impress you or others; rather, they gave freely and joyfully—the quintessential model of cheerful giving (2 Cor. 9:7).
For the glory of Jesus and the advancing of your kingdom, we ask you to give us the same grace you gave the churches of Macedonia. The needs all around us are exponential, but your resources are endless. Indeed, help us to excel in the grace of giving. For you are “able to make all grace abound to [us], so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, [we] can abound in every good work” (2 Cor. 9:8). Enrich us in every way that we might be generous in every way (2 Cor. 9:11)—with our time, talents, and treasures, and with great forbearance and extravagant forgiveness.
Lord Jesus, you are the ultimate cheerful giver. That is what the gospel is all about—this is what this season of Advent is all about. Though you were rich, you gladly became poor for us, that by your poverty we might become joyfully rich through you (2 Cor. 8:9). We give ourselves to you, for you have given yourself for us and to us. Make your gladness ours. Make your generosity ours. So very Amen we pray, in your great and gracious name.