22 Mar Giving and Manna
2 Cor 8.13 I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
Before I mention anything, the first thing that must be secured in any church is the fact that devotion to Jesus is what giving is the result of. Verse 5 says that the Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord, and then they gave their possessions to the brothers. Notice, they gave themselves and then their possessions. Themselves and then possessions. We must not start a sermon series on giving by saying that it is our Christian duty. NO! We must begin by urging people to be reconciled to God. To give themselves to God, first. Then, as they see what God sees, they will desire to make a difference.
What is fascinating about this passage is that Paul equates giving to the needs of the Body to a miracle. Indeed, it is a miracle if we see people give anything! But notice the parallel between the one who abounds and the one who lacks to the manna in the wilderness. People were not sharing the manna with each other in the wilderness. They were commanded to gather only what was needed for their household. What is the connection that Paul sees?
First, it is the fact that needs are met. There is no doubt about that that. Verse 14: so that their abundance may supply your need. When someone has and someone does not, there is a knee-jerk reaction in the heart of the believer. James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good* is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
Second, the way which the need is met is incredible. Manna fell from heaven. It was given by the very hands of God. The need for food was met. In the Macedonian church, the need for food was met by the person who had food to give. This is not to draw a line between gifts given by God and those given by men. James 1:17 tells us that every good and perfect gift is from above. Therefore, even the gift from a brother is from God. However, the mode by which it is met is astounding. Your hand is able to be the means God uses to meet another’ need – and vice-versa. Instead, of the man going out and gathering food off the grass (manna), your hand extends to his and he gathers from it!
Oh! If the Church would believe this. We give ourselves first to God and then we give our stuff to others. This is true religion.