2 Corinthians 8:1-6

We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.

For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 2 Corinthians 8:1-6

I decided to be a church visitor yesterday. We have an experiment in congregational life going on in Houston called Kindred. The core of their community life revolves around Dinner Church on Sundays at 5:30 PM. They do several creative things during worship, including a note to download the Tithe.ly app to my phone so that I could give to the ministry. That was a new one for me.

I can’t remember the last time I took a quick break from worship to download, install, and sign up for an app on my phone – in the midst of a worship experience. But it worked. Since I’m in that uncomfortable week before pay day I’m not rolling in the dough. So I decided that I would feel good about giving $50. Actually a little more because I clicked “Cover the service charge” so, in the end, it cost me $51.46 so that Kindred would get $50. (Quick break to do the math. That is a 2.92% markup. Normal, I guess, for credit cards and certainly a sweet deal for Tithe.ly.)

At the end of the day, and from the very beginning of the Christian movement, it costs money to be a Christian community. Because it costs money to do everything we do. As I have said previously, the money that flows through our hands is a means of exchange, not an end in itself. Giving money last night during worship wasn’t about buying anything, not even about paying for the privilege of gathering in a comfortable room. It was an act of worship.

Who knows what the Apostle Paul would say about spur of the moment high tech electronic giving to support ministry? My guess is that he would think it a sweet deal. He could raise money without worrying about shipwrecks. Personally, I was grateful. Because I don’t carry cash anymore and it allowed me to give anyway. (It also, immediately, gave me the opportunity to give automatically in the future. Good for Kindred. GREAT for Tithe.ly)

Here are the high points of these first verses from 2 Corinthians. The Macedonian Jesus followers were extremely poor. Their lives were brutally hard. They were dedicated to following Jesus. They were more than willing to share what little they had with the struggling church in Jerusalem. Their faith, and their generosity, were far more impactful on Paul than the amount of their gift. The Macedonians recognized that it was a privilege to support another ministry. Yes, it is.

Let us pray: Dear Lord, help us be good stewards of all your gifts to us. Give us generous hearts to share what we have to keep your ministry of love active and alive in our world today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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