WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
SEPTEMBER 27, 2022
TOPIC: EXCEL IN GIVING
BY T. O. BANSO
“But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7 New International Version).
Giving is one area where many people fail. They can encourage and pray for others who’re going through painful situations and need assistance but when it comes to giving finances or materials to support them, although they have resources to give, they hardly give.
The Corinthian church was a highly gifted church full of good speakers, knowledge, enthusiasm, and love but they did not abound in the grace of giving. That church wasn’t like the Macedonian churches – churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, and others in the region of Macedonia – going through hardship and serious poverty but who still begged Paul to collect from them the gifts for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem.
This is what the Apostle Paul said about the Macedonian churches: “And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 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 8:1-5 New International Version).
Paul’s letter to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8 was to challenge them to fulfil their promise because one year after their enthusiasm to give, they were yet to complete their collection. Their initial enthusiasm stirred the Macedonian churches to begin giving. Titus, while in the Corinthian church had begun the collection of aid for the impoverished saints at Jerusalem. Paul, in his letter, urged Titus to complete the collection that he had already begun in this church (2 Corinthians 8:6).
Paul told the Corinthians, “But just as you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us-see that you also excel in this grace of giving” (2 Corinthians 8:7 New International Version). In other words, excelling in the areas mentioned does not excuse them from excelling in the grace of giving. They must also excel in the grace of giving. The Living Bible renders 2 Corinthians 8:7 thus: “You people there are leaders in so many ways – you have so much faith, so many good preachers, so much learning, so much enthusiasm, so much love for us. Now I want you to be leaders also in the spirit of cheerful giving.”
Paul also talked to the Corinthians about this collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem in verses 10-11: “And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have” (New King James Version).
Again, in 2 Corinthians 9:1-4, Paul referred to their delay in fulfilling their commitment: “There is no need for me to write to you about this service to the saints. For I know your eagerness to help, and I have been boasting about it to the Macedonians, telling them that since last year you in Achaia were ready to give; and your enthusiasm has stirred most of them to action. But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you in this matter should not prove hollow, but that you may be ready, as I said you would be. For if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we — not to say anything about you — would be ashamed of having been so confident” (New International version).
Take note of the mention of Achaia. Macedonia and Achaia are often mentioned together in the New Testament to signify entire Greece. They were the northern and southern regions of Greece. Corinth was the capital of Achaia, which had other churches. In Romans 15:25, Paul talks about being on his way to Jerusalem to deliver aid to the Christians there. “For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (verses 26-27 New International Version ).
Don’t just excel in prayer; also excel in giving. Don’t excel only in singing; also excel in giving. You may excel in preaching but you should also not neglect to give – excel in both. The Bible tells us that there are situations when prayer will be inadequate in supporting people who are in need – prayer can’t be a substitute for practical giving in such situations.
Hear what James 2:15-17 says: “If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,’ but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (New King James Version). In this case, prayer is not enough. You must demonstrate your love in such a situation by trying to meet the person’s needs, according to your ability.
The Antioch church did this when there was a prophecy of famine. After the prophecy, they didn’t say that they would stand with the other believers in prayer. See what the Bible says: “And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, each according to his ability, determined to send relief to the brethren dwelling in Judea. This they also did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 11:27-30 New King James Version).
The phrase “all the world” refers to the Roman Empire. The Antioch brethren made collections to support the brethren in Judea and sent them to the elders through Barnabas and Saul. These brethren gave what they could afford. “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor Will also cry himself and not be heard” (Proverbs 21:13 New King James Version).
Giving is part of the kingdom’s financial principles that you should practise. Don’t just talk or pray about it; give. Give towards God’s work, sow seeds, and give to the poor and needy. Paul gave this instruction to the Corinthians: “Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given orders to the churches of Galatia, so you must do also: On the first day of the week let each one of you lay something aside, storing up as he may prosper, that there be no collections when I come” (1 Corinthians 16:1-2 New King James Version).
In Acts 9:36, the Bible says of Tabitha (Dorcas), “She was always doing good things for people and had given much to the poor” (Contemporary English Version). Psalm 41:1 says, “Blessed is he who considers the poor; the LORD will deliver him in time of trouble” (New King James Version). All the beneficiaries of Dorcas’ generosity, including the widows, must have prayed to God to restore her to life when she died. Through the Apostle Peter, she was brought back to life (Acts 9:39-41). Her house must have been thrown into a great joy that day. The widows who had been weeping must have been jubilating. “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27 New King James Version).
Biblical giving is not a waste; it’s not in vain. Proverbs 19:17 says, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the LORD, and He will pay back what he has given” (New King James Version). “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38 New King James Version). Give as the Lord provides for you. Don’t promise what you can’t give (Proverbs 25:14; Ecclesiastes 5:4-5; Deuteronomy 23:21-23).
Give generously, cheerfully, and voluntarily (2 Corinthians 9:6-8). “There is one who scatters, yet increases more; and there is one who withholds more than is right, But it leads to poverty” (Proverbs 11:24 New King James Version). Remember that it is more blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). Don’t steal to give or give what is not yours! Give according to your ability. Excel in giving.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to excel in giving as I excel in other things. I shall not withhold more than is right; I shall give generously, cheerfully, voluntarily, and regularly. I pray that those who’re stingy will be delivered from this spirit and will be possessed by the spirit of generosity. They will learn to give so that good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into their bosom.
(For over 800 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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