Devotion: They Gave Themselves First to the Lord

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Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-6

What does it mean to “give yourself first to the Lord”?  What form does that take in your life?
When is it easier to give yourself first to the Lord, during times of plenty or times of less-than-plenty?

Devotion:  They Gave Themselves First to the Lord
Feb. 2004

2 Corinthians 8:1-6 “We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints — and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you.”

What does it mean to “give yourself first to the Lord”?  What form does that take in your life?
When is it easier to give yourself first to the Lord, during times of plenty or times of less-than-plenty?  
Why does that circumstance seem easier to you?
How does it feel to commit yourself first to the Lord?  
How often do you do it?

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul commends members of the Macedonian church for their generosity.  It’s an extreme example, as scholars believe this area of the world in Paul’s was living under some relatively difficult conditions.  The “severe ordeal of affliction” that Paul describes in verse 2 might have been a famine or an epidemic of deadly disease.  Additionally, the Macedonian churches were located in a rather out-of-the-way location, and the material trappings of cities like Corinth were not part of their day-to-day rural existence.

But Paul sees something valuable in their reaction to his request for support for the struggling church in Jerusalem.  The Macedonians couldn’t wait to give their financial support, even though they were facing difficult circumstances all around them.  They gave as much as they could–even more than was comfortable, Paul reports–and still begged for the chance to give more.  In verse 5, Paul says something significant:  “they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then to us!”

What an example!  Faced with challenging circumstances, the Macedonians turned to the Lord and listened.  Rather than pulling out their check books and looking at the balance, they turned to God and asked for guidance.  They put their faith where their wallet had been.  And because of the strength of their commitment, they couldn’t wait to share what God had given them–even though it was far less in monetary terms than what had been given to the Corinthians.

How does this compare to the reaction your congregation has to giving?  What about your personal reaction to giving?

What signs of joyful giving does your congregation show?  How do you celebrate those signs?
On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate the joy your congregation feels  in giving?  What could you do to raise that rating?


Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Any part of “Salt Seasonings” can be reproduced with attribution. All Scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version of the Bible (NRSV).

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Salt 2004

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The Center for Stewardship Leaders seeks to shape a faithful, multidimensional culture of stewardship in congregations, households, and society. The center strives to consider the full spectrum of stewardship practice and theology, including financial stewardship, holistic stewardship, and leadership. See all posts from CSL.

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