If I want to be a godly giver like the Macedonian believers, my first gift has to be myself - to the Lord.
For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. 2 Corinthians 8:3-5.
Paul, the cruel persecutor and hound of Christian Believers in Jerusalem area, had a dramatic conversion and spent the rest of his life until imprisoned himself, traveling to various countries and starting Christian churches. He was bragging on the Macedonian churches, for when they heard of a famine in Jerusalem they were eager to send money to help out. Paul especially commended them for their attitude of first giving themselves to the Lord, then giving of their material goods to help others in need.
Their example has been preached on in many sermons since. I've heard it since I was a child. That's why I'm stopping to look at it more carefully now so that it doesn't just look like the usually scenery or furniture as I go past it. What does it really mean; my first gift has to be myself - to the Lord?
Do you want to know too?
Almost everyone, when they hear of someone in great need or distress, finds that 'milk of human kindness' welling up in them, and they feel sorry for them, and a desire to help the unfortunate. Some sigh or cluck pityingly, but feel overwhelmed by the problem, and don't do anything. Some find some organization that is going to help those needy ones, and contribute some money. Then they feel they have done their duty and can go on with their own life.
What if I first gave myself to the Lord? What would happen then?
It would mean that I've made myself available for the Lord to use as He pleases. He may already have me busy at another assignment, or He may decide to use me to help those in this current crisis at their point of need. His ways and means might surprise us.
I do believe God would work with the personality, interests and resources He has already placed in us or in our reach, but if we really give ourselves to the Lord first, He is likely to use us in some creative way to help. But that should not frighten us. Not if we understand how truly great, and wise and lovely our Lord God is!
Rather, it should give us a tingle of excitement. We may just end up giving more creatively than we would have otherwise, but we might also find ourselves traveling and doing things we never had imagined before. As a result we gain new experiences and skills and friends that all enrich our lives.
It is important that my first gift has to be myself to the Lord. It's true for you as well. I can now think of several reasons;
Let's you and I do this then; let us first offer ourselves up to the Lord, and tell Him we are willing to do whatever He would like with us. He has wonderful plans. Making ourselves available like this means that He can freely use us in those wonderful, creative plans.
True, God may need to polish and shape our personality and character first to make us more effective for His goals, and that process is not always comfortable, but in the end - over all, we shall be part of some amazing, even miraculous things God wants to do as part of His plan to be overty and abundantly generous and good to as many as possible!
Why would you NOT want to be part of that?
Come on, don't put it off any longer. Give yourself to God!
PRAYER: Lord, I want to give myself to You - so that You may use me to bless others, and give to others in need, and so that all my giving will be guided and screened by You. Only You have the great tact and wisdom necessary to do this right!
Help me to steer others to this first step too!