Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: they were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself.
They gave offerings of whatever they could-far more than they could afford!-pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians. This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 - The Message
Giving ourselvesfirst to the Lord is the true principle of all Christian giving. These Macdeonian Christians are an amazing example to the church in every age of the dynamic difference that God's grace makes in the lives and attitudes of followers of Christ. The gracious work of giving on the part of believers is more than matched by the self-giving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
To quote Thomas Merton, "To be grateful is to recognize the love of God in everything God has given us - and God has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of God's love, every moment of existence a gift of grace." Gifted first by God, we are called to offer up ourselves in praise and thanksgiving, heeding God's direction in our daily labors.
The above scripture passage brings to mind a praise song popular in the mid-80's titled "We Are an Offering."
We lift our voices, we lift our hands.
We lift our lives up to you, we are an offering.
Lord use our voices, Lord use our hands.
Lord use our lives they are yours, we are an offering.
All that we have, all that we are, all that we hope to be, we give to you.
Prayer for Today
O Jesus, Lord and Savior, I give myself to thee;
For thou, in thy atonement, didst give thyself for me;
I own no other master, my heart shall be thy throne,
My life I give, henceforth to live, O Christ, for thee alone. Amen.