When institutions and organizations want to construct a new building, they often invite their supporters to purchase a single brick. The bricks are inscribed with the supporters’ names, and they serve as a reminder that many people contributed a small part to make a larger project possible.
Today we will consider how financial generosity is an important way that we participate in evangelism. Our reading gives us the specific example of the members of the Macedonian church who “gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability” (v. 3) to support the Jerusalem church. Though we may only have the equivalent of “two very small copper coins” (Mark 12:42) to give, we are contributing to something much larger: the work of the church in the world. Our gifts allow gospel ministers and evangelists to preach the gospel without distraction (1 Tim. 5:17–18), they send gospel labors to faraway places, and they maintain the ordinary ministry of the local church so that it can extend an invitation to people in our communities.
We may be tempted to approach our financial gifts with a grudging attitude, carefully measuring how little we can get away with giving and how much we can keep for ourselves. But the Macedonians encourage us to think differently about giving. These Christians saw the opportunity to give as a privilege. In fact, they “urgently pleaded” (v. 4) with Paul for his permission to give!
The Macedonian Christians knew that giving was a way for them to share in the work of the gospel, and so it was something they greatly desired. They wanted to imitate Christ, who “though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).
Sharing our financial resources with our local church and other Christian ministries is an important way to participate in evangelism. Let’s strive to imitate the Macedonians, who “welled up in rich generosity” (v. 2). Review your financial giving—are you regularly giving to support missionaries or Christian organizations?