In 2 Corinthians 8 Paul had restored his relationship with the church at Corinth and was moving on back to the regular business of things. One of these things was the collection he had requested of all the churches that they were going to bring to the church at Jerusalem in their time of need. Paul was bragging on the church of Macedonia because in their own poverty and need they were so eager to be part of the generosity that they collected more money than anyone else and were so grateful to give it. Meanwhile, the church at Corinth had been so caught up in all of their drama that they hadn’t collected anything at all. Paul was reminding them that this collection was going to be hand-delivered by trusted men from the churches that were going to visit the church in Jerusalem. Paul also used an example from the Old Testament of how the needs in the body of Christ should look by quoting Exodus when manna came down from heaven. Those who collected more had just enough and those who collected less had just enough. Nobody was lacking and nobody had a stockpile. Paul reminded them that he wasn’t looking for them to give to the point of their own poverty, but to give during their time of surplus knowing that when they are in a time of need their needs will also be met.
As I read through this, I couldn’t help but raise the question of why the church of Macedonia was so generous and joyful even in poverty, but the church at Corinth was dragging their feet to contribute even though they were doing well financially. It hit me that our spiritual condition has everything to do with our level of generosity. When we are in a place of sin and are far from God we become selfishly consumed and focused on our own needs, wants and desires. In this state of mind, we tend to be more closed fisted with our giving because we start taking on the mentality that we have to take care of our own selves because we believe nobody else will. Unfortunately, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy because in our sin and rebellion, we are not surrendered to God so we become our own source (and a very lousy one) but somehow, we also become prideful of this illusion in our own minds that our own hard work is providing for ourselves. Since the the promises of God’s favor come with surrender, we are no longer walking in his favor. Sometimes it’s just the grace of God keeping us afloat, but in our pride and ignorance we credit our “success” to our own hard work until we hit disaster and we either become humbled or we dig further into our own pride mess. These are just my own thoughts, but I have noticed that when we doubt God’s favor and blessing in our lives, it’s often because we either know we are not surrendered, or because we misunderstand what it means to live in a place of surrender. The promises of God all come with surrender and obedience. If we are not walking in obedience, we tend to believe we are being punished for messing up when the reality is that God is more interested in our surrender that our perfection. Our obedience comes from the place of surrender, even if we mess that up too. God is after our surrender and his favor comes when our pride is set aside and we follow after him. “God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 If you struggle with believing God is for you, check your level of surrender. Does God have the right to run your life, or are you still large and in charge? “Commit your activities to the Lord and your plans will be achieved.” Proverbs 16:3