II CORINTHIANS 7:16b-8:5
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
II Cor. 7:16b “I have confidence in you in all things.”
In the Corinthian letters, Paul had to deal with several difficult, controversial topics. The saints at Corinth, having countless problems, were probably Baptists.
As chapter seven ends, Paul is preparing to broach a most delicate subject, the issue of fundraising. A key event in Paul’s fruitful ministry was the offering he collected in his travels from poor Gentiles to be given to even poorer Jewish saints in Jerusalem. Paul prayed this offering would strengthen the church’s solidarity by bonding Jews with Gentiles, helping them to become truly one body in Christ.
To promote this offering, Paul devoted two whole chapters to the matter of giving. II Corinthians 8-9 have established forever the standard for Christian giving and fundraising. Paul here taught us the proper spirit in which money should be given and in which appeals for money should be made. Using tact and delicacy, he approaches the issue in a winsome way, and from a happy state of mind.
II Cor. 8:1 “Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God
bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;”
“Do you to wit” is “cause you to know.” To help spur giving in the church at Corinth, in south Greece, Paul will tell them what was done by their sister churches at Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea in the northern province of Macedonia.
In their giving, the Macedonians had “the grace of God bestowed” on them. To Paul, giving was as spiritual an act of worship as praying, Bible reading, and witnessing. In fact, he commanded the Corinthians to make giving a part of their Sunday gatherings (1 C 16:2). This is why our public worship services include an offering. It is not a new idea, not an afterthought, not something we tack on at the end of church, but rather a Bible-based activity. Giving is holy, spiritual, worship.
This is good news for believers. Since giving is a spiritual act, it is the Holy Spirit’s doing, and thus every believer can be enabled to perform it. Even Ebenezer Scrooge can be changed. A disposition to give as the Macedonians gave has to come from God. I may be able to pry open a finger or two, but only God can open hands and open hearts. Sacrificial giving is so foreign to our sin nature that a miracle is needed. To trigger this beneficence, God’s direct intervention is essential.
Thus, our first need is to pray significantly for ourselves. Ultimately, giving is about hearts and God. We will consider sacrificial giving either a blessing or a burden. If we refuse to let God enable us to see it as a grace, we will deem it a groan.
II Cor. 8:2 “How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy
and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality.”
The Holy Spirit obviously empowered the Macedonians. Unnatural events, miraculous deeds, happened among them. In their day, to be a Christian meant persecution and hardship, yet in their “great trial of affliction” they somehow displayed “abundance” of joy. When there’s little to be happy about, can a person still find joy? The Macedonians did. They found joy by turning their attention away from themselves. They focused instead on relieving the hurts of others.
Out of “deep poverty” they showed rich “liberality.” They reached the bottom of the barrel, and down there somehow found a way to give. When at the bottom, considering ourselves a zero, can we find a way to contribute? The Macedonians did. They found it by helping people who were down even lower than themselves.
History helps here. When Paul wrote, Greece was desolate. This was not its golden era. In 167 B.C. Rome devastated north Greece, especially Macedonia. In 146 B.C. Romans pillaged south Greece, including destruction of Corinth. In 86 B.C., armies of Mithridates from Asia and of Sully from Rome engaged in war in Greece. On Greek soil, in 48 B.C. legions under Julius Caesar and Pompey warred against each other, in 42 B.C. armies under Antony and Brutus fought one another, and in 31 B.C. troops under Antony and Cleopatra succumbed to Augustus Caesar.
Paul was writing to people trying to recover from two centuries of misery inflicted by pillaging armies that left devastation in their wake. Their poverty was so great that in Paul’s era they petitioned Tiberius Caesar to be exempted from control and taxation by the Roman Senate. Their request to be solely under Caesar’s direct control, and thereby gain special, more lenient, tax status was granted. Greedy Rome granting them tax relief was convincing proof of their dire poverty.
Paul was writing some of the poorest people on earth, encouraging them by the example of other poorest people on earth, to give to even poorer people. Today, irony of ironies, I take a writing to and about some of the poorest Christians ever and use it to stimulate in North America some of the richest Christians ever.
The Macedonians, poor yet joyful and liberal, were no exception to the rule in early Christianity. The first believers were noted for a joy and generosity amidst persecution and poverty that astonished the pagan world. Such behavior still baffles prechristians. One lady gave so much to our church last year that her tax preparer doubted her and called us to verify her claim. Even the lost know that glad, generous giving is extraordinary. It is a miracle, proof of the Holy Spirit’s power.
God’s grace was flowing toward the Macedonians. God showered on them an extraordinary anointing to enable them to give extraordinarily for others. The one condition for continued blessings is being a conduit to pass on blessings received. The unchanging law is that all unshared bestowments are eventually withdrawn.
The Macedonian model is God’s grace flowing to a group of believers and overflowing through them to others. We at Second often say God’s blessing is on our church. Maybe unintended egocentricism blurs our words. In Heaven, Jesus may tell us His blessing was not as much on Second as on Nepal, Uganda, China, and Tanzania through Second. He may say He was really wanting to bless our public schools, Chicago, Nebraska, Montana, Mexico, and Kansas City, and needed a pipeline willing to let His blessing flow to and overflow through. His blessing has come to us while passing on its way through us to others. Rather than risk slowing this flow of blessing, let’s keep the divine corridor open, and increase its capacity by letting more people in so we can send more people out on mission.
Each time we reach out to help others we find ourselves helped. As we reach out to lift others we find ourselves lifted. We have given and given and given to the coffers of others, yet every time have turned to see our coffers again given to.
I remember well when the International Mission Board asked our church for thousands of dollars to fund a prayer calendar for a country whose location I was not sure of. We hesitated, but decided to ask the deacons. I shared the IMB request and asked what they thought. A silence hung over the room for a few seconds, and then our chairman Bill Shook softly spoke for us all, “What else can we do? We have no choice. We have to do this. We’ve been praying to be involved.”
Oh how God’s blessing has flowed to us and overflowed through us. What a privilege. I’m spoiled. I don’t want to go back to church as usual. I want to live nowhere other than under the hydrant of His blessing. “Jesus, open the faucet of Thy blessing wider, pour the Spirit on us in even more abundant supply. Father, help us get out of the way of what you want to do, and help us make a way for it.”
Let’s each take a “blessing flow to us, overflow through us” test. When God looks past our wallets, what does He see? Does He see dollars He passed through our wallets headed to the apartments behind us, to Winnebagos, Nicaragua, Brazil, and Australia, or does He see all the money stalled in a selfish dead end, in purchases for our enjoyments? God’s blessing fell on the Macedonians as they conveyed it to others. Thus, let us first pray, “Spirit, flow to us, overflow through us.”
II Cor. 8:3 “For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power
they were willing of themselves;
Paul used poor believers in Macedonia as an example to nudge poor believers in Corinth to give money to even poorer believers in Jerusalem. The Macedonians put an ouch in their offering. Though poor, they gave beyond anyone’s expectation. They contributed way past what anybody thought possible in their situation.
Paul obviously wanted the Corinthians also to say ouch as they gave. We not only need to give our offerings. We must also feel them. In giving, sacrifice is the beginning virtue, self-denial the first step. Until self is denied, nothing is given. If today’s offering does not hurt, we will have given only a tip, not a gift.
We truly give only when we consciously do without something we want. The only worthwhile offering is one which smarts. Pure donations contain an ouch.
When David chose a temple site, the landowner offered to donate the property. David refused, “No, but I will surely buy it from you for a price, for I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God which cost me nothing” (2 SM 24:24 NAS).
The challenge from the Macedonians to us is crystal clear, does our giving cost us anything? Ruth and I constantly see cars nicer than ours, and houses bigger than ours. My carnal mathematical nature occasionally runs the figures on what model of car we could drive, and what kind of house we could live in, were we giving less to the church. With our offerings to the church, we could afford monthly payments on a house costing $80,000 more than the one we live in, and buy a whole fleet of 1963 Ford Falcons, the finest car ever built in North America.
We all need to examine our giving. Have we recently consciously given up something we wanted in order to give a pure gift of love to Jesus? We who give regularly often slip into the trap of giving pedantically. Love’s luster often dulls on our offerings. The money becomes just money, not a passionate gift of love. Our gifts, to be worthwhile, ought to carry with them a part of our own selves.
II Cor. 8:4 “Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift,
and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”
The Macedonians begged Paul to let them participate in this offering. Giving was an honor they sought, not a troublesome obligation they dreaded. There was no whining, no groaning, no saying we are too poor, no claiming this is a bad time.
They were not hounded into giving. Pressure came only from within themselves. Liberality is rare, self-induced liberality even rarer. People usually have to be prodded, but the Macedonians gave as a joyous act of fellowship, as a tangible way to help believers. Prompted by a love only God can give, they gave with no strings attached, unconditionally. Macedonians intertwined hearts with Judeans, Gentiles with Jews, Europeans with Asians, Westerners with Easterners. Nationality, race, ethnicity, heritage, and politics did not matter. Seeing only hurting people whom Jesus loved, they passed on to them God’s blessing. Jesus truly was among His dear saints in Macedonia. Their unconditional love in giving proved it.
II Cor. 8:5a “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own
selves to the Lord,. . .”
The Macedonians gave far more than Paul had dared to hope for. The level of their generosity shocked the mighty Apostle. I stand in awe before these impoverished saints. The Macedonians put a wow in their offering. I ask, how did they do this? What is “the profound explanation of this heroic self-denial” (Parker)?
They first gave themselves, their very being, to the Lord. These Macedonians were master-teachers, illustrating Paul and Peter’s words, “Ye are not your own. For ye are bought with a price” (1 C 6:19-20); ye were bought not “with corruptible things, as silver and gold,. . . .But with the precious blood of Christ” (1 P 1:18-19). God is the Author of our physical life and of our spiritual life. We acknowledge His right to own us by voluntarily surrendering to Him all we are and have.
Paul knew their persons had been given to God when he saw their purses being gladly given to God’s work. These two always go together. Until we yield self, giving is tough. We struggle up a steep incline, pushing a heavy stone. If our heart is not in it, giving is hard work, every step a burden, but once we give self, all other giving becomes easy. We can give parts gladly once we give the whole.
In giving their whole selves to the Lord, the Macedonians began to realize all they had automatically belonged to the Lord already. “If a man feels that he does not own himself, much less will he feel that his goods are his own” (Maclaren).
One of the most freeing and relaxing teachings of Scripture is that God owns everything. “The earth is the Lord’s, and the fulness thereof” (PS 24:1). Realizing nothing belongs to us helps break our emotional attachment and addiction to stuff.
Realizing nothing belongs to us makes it easier to give to God. We are not owners. We are merely stewards, temporary trustees. Since God owns everything anyway, there is a way in which we can rightly say we never give Him anything.
After David and the people gave profusely for work on the Lord’s house, they rejoiced, but did not brag or feel smug. The people had given, but David blessed God, saying He owns “everything that is in the heavens and the earth. . . .Both riches and honor come from Thee,. . . .God, we thank thee,. . . .But who am I and who are my people that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from Thee, and from Thy hand we have given Thee” (I CH 29 NAS).
God is not “served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things” (AC 17:25 NAS). “Every beast of the forest is Mine, the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird of the mountains, and everything that moves in the field is Mine. If I were hungry, I would not tell you; for the world is Mine, and all it contains” (PS 50:10-12 NAS).
Giving is our way of acknowledging all we have belongs to God, and has already been placed on the altar. God asked Abraham to offer his son, Isaac, but was actually wanting to know if He had all that was within Abraham. Isaac’s body was on the altar, but the real question was, is Abraham’s heart also on there?
We outwardly give a part to represent we have inwardly given all. Our offering has to be an outward expression of an inner reality. My wedding ring is a visible token, a statement in gold of my devotion and faithfulness to Ruth, but if not matched by an inner, 100% giving of myself to her in love, the ring is a mockery.
Symbolism is useless apart from the reality it claims to represent. Thus, if you have not given all in your heart, don’t put anything in the offering plate. We can do more with twenty God-blessed dollars than with forty unblessed dollars, for the former is accompanied with a yielded, willing pray-er, worker, giver, and goer.
We do not want to receive your money if in doing so we lead you to believe you have thereby performed all your duty or done God a favor. The Macedonians force us to go past the issue of stuff, and face the harder issue of self.
Woodrow Kroll tells a precious story from the nineteenth century. C. T. Studd was a world champion cricket player who became a Christian. Soon thereafter his dad died. C. T. inherited about $150,000, a huge fortune in those days. Studd had already surrendered his life to full-time career mission service in Africa. He feared the money would always be a temptation to leave the Lord’s work and return home. C. T. had crossed a line. He had given himself, and wanted to never look back. He gave $25,000 to missionary Hudson Taylor’s work in China, $25,000 to William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, and $25,000 to D. L. Moody. The rest he gave to other ministries until he had $17,000 left. He gave this to his bride on their wedding day, but she refused to accept it. Her response was, “The rich young ruler was asked to give all.” With that, they gave everything to the Lord’s work, and then, penniless, left as missionaries to Africa.
God does not need our gifts. He wants our love. Our loving God desires loving echoes. Let every offering be a love-gift, a statement of our passion for Him.
If Jesus does not have us, He does not want anything from us. “If God doesn’t have the hand, He doesn’t want the gift that is in the hand” (McGee).
If you have not yet given yourself totally to God, take your money home, lean back in a recliner, and place your wallet on your heart as a picture of where your treasure really is. Then pray till God gives an absolute brokenness which brings a ton of embarrassment, a flood of tears, a heart of repentance, and a joy in giving.
II Cor. 8:5b “. . .and unto us. . .”
Poor Macedonians gave generously to even poorer believers in Jerusalem, but only after giving themselves to the Lord. They decided all they had belonged to Jesus. Once this decision is made, it is easier to give to God than to spend on self.
The Macedonians also gave themselves “unto us,” to Paul and others who could help get the job done. They knew they could not accomplish God’s required mission on their own. The Lord’s kingdom enterprise is vast. It is egotism at its worst to be a Lone Ranger in God’s work. Realizing this, the Macedonians, with a deep sense of humility, joined hands with others to accomplish the task at hand.
Determined to discharge God’s work effectively, the Macedonians committed themselves to trustworthy leaders of the work. They loved Paul, and wed their lives to his ministry. They sent Sopater, Secundus, and Aristarchus to help Paul on his third missionary journey (AC 20:4). Aristarchus accompanied Paul on his dangerous voyage to Rome (AC 27:2). Paul was a prisoner in chains, but Aristarchus was not ashamed. He was on a mission, to help the beloved Apostle in his time of need. When Paul was wasting away in a Roman dungeon, the Macedonians of Philippi sent a love offering by the hand of Epaphroditus, who risked his life and almost died on this mission of mercy. Deeply touched, Paul called him (my brother and fellow-worker and fellow-soldier” (PH 2:25 NAS). Epaphroditus carried home the New Testament’s most joyous book, the letter to the Philippians.
The Macedonians gave themselves first to the Lord and to His leaders, with the result being a closer bond with other believers. They understood that being connected with Jesus and His shepherds entailed also being connected with His people, the flock of God. Shame on us North American Christians for being the first believers in history to try to define ourselves apart from the organized church.
We who grew up in the sixties and seventies often bought into our culture’s decision to cast off institutions. Unfortunately, we conveyed this sad legacy of cynicism to our children. When rebelling against the establishment, we wrongly threw the Church into the mix, as if it were just another organization among many.
Every Christian deeply owes the Church. Every believer can trace their spiritual ancestry to a church member. A member of the church preaches to us, a member of it teaches our children. She is the chief means of extending God’s kingdom.
Next time someone bad-mouths the Church, ask when they last went to a Kansas City homeless shelter, to Nepal, to China, or anywhere else on mission. Ask what risk they’re taking to get the Jesus Film into repressive countries. Be slow to stand outside the Church and harshly criticize her. Workers in the scorching sun find it hard to heed someone under a shade tree offering advice on how to swing a sickle better. The active tend to be skeptical of advice offered by the inactive.
We who belong to the Church know she is not perfect. I have given a third of a century in preaching and ministry to try to help bolster her. If I ever find a perfect church, I will not join it, for if I did, it would immediately become imperfect.
The Church cannot be perfect because none of her members is perfect. People are not angels. Forgetting this fact has caused preachers to leave the ministry, teachers to forsake their classes, members to give up faithful attendance. We need to get a grip. Folks are just folks, they have sin natures, they mess up, they sin.
Everyone knows the Church in North America is struggling with her own sinfulness. Our brand of Christianity has produced a generation of believers who too often define the faith in terms of what it can do for them. Many serve God selfishly, solely for what He can do for them or their family. They choose a church in light of what it can do for them, not for what they can do for it. Our pews contain many whose understanding of Christianity is self-oriented. As a result, some are saying, if you want to find the love of Jesus, the last place to look is a church. I feel this is too harsh, but if perception is as important as reality, we have to admit Christians are facing a long, hard row to hoe in convincing the world we love it.
The Church is imperfect, but still Christ’s bride, and the only New Testament sanctioned expression of the Universal Church is a local church. Friend, find a church to join. Seek out one whose leaders are going where God is leading, and join it. If it is okay for one believer not to join the church, it is okay for everybody not to join, and the result of that would be the crippling of God’s work on earth.
It is time for all believers to cooperate with one another in the work. United we stand, divided we fall. Right now we need to stand shoulder to shoulder, pushing in the same direction. I’m reminded of a man who tried to get his couch out the front door. When the couch lodged and would not budge, he enlisted a neighbor’s help. They got on each end of the couch and pushed until totally exhausted. Finally, the homeowner said, “I’m never going to get this couch out of here.” His neighbor replied with dismay, “Out?” They had been pushing against each other.
Be not ashamed of us, your imperfect brothers and sisters in Christ. Hear Charles Spurgeon’s story. When he became a believer, he was determined to join a church immediately, but had to undergo an interview with the pastor. “I called upon the minister four successive days. . . .Each day there was some obstacle in the way of an interview; and as I could not see him at all, I wrote and told him that I would go down to the church-meeting, and propose myself as a member. He looked upon me as a strange character, but I meant what I said; for I felt I could not be happy without fellowship with the people of God. I wanted to be wherever they were; and if anybody ridiculed them, I wished to be ridiculed with them; and if people had an ugly name for them, I wanted to be called by that ugly name.”
It is time for Christians to come out of the closet. Everybody else is. We need to declare which side we are on. These are the times that try men’s soul. A war is raging for the soul of our nation. If we don’t join now, when the battle is engaged, when will we join? Identify yourself with God’s people. The Macedonians did.
II Cor. 8:5c “. . .by the will of God.”
Two thousand years later, these Macedonians continue to be an inspiration and example for us. They gave themselves to the Lord, to trustworthy leaders, and to God’s dear people. Our text now tells us what motivated their generosity.
The Macedonians were spurred on “by the will of God.” They believed they were pleasing Him. Christians want to please God, and often our hardest challenge in discerning His will about giving is to ascertain, “How much is enough?”
This is a reasonable question which deserves from any preacher a straightforward answer. Let me approach the question with two observations and a parable.
The first observation: preaching must never be self-serving. Pastors’ salaries are paid out of what people place in the offering plate. Thus, before preaching on money, a pastor must stay in a closet in prayer until emptied of selfish motives.
Pastors are stereotyped. We have the terrible reputation of loving the offering more than any other part of a worship service. I’m glad archaeological evidence has conclusively proven the handwriting on the wall, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin” (DN 5:25) is not ancient Hebrew for “Money, money tickles the parson.”
My favorite recent story on this subject involves two men stranded on a desert island. One is grieving, “We’re going to die.” The other man is calm, “I make a million dollars a week and I tithe.” The first one moans, “You’ve lost your mind. Money won’t help us here.” The second one coolly answers, “Don’t worry. I make a million dollars a week and I tithe.” The first one argues, “What in the world does that have to do with our situation?” The second confidently replies, “I make a million dollars a week and I tithe. I promise you, my pastor will find me.”
Pastors certainly have a vested interest in the financial success of the churches they serve. Thus, it is incumbent upon us to make sure we preach on giving in order to raise money for God and His cause, of which our salary is but a small part.
I pray my motives are pure at this point. My job is secure. I’m confident my salary will be paid, whether or not I preach on giving. I think my heart is right, and trust these sermons have addressed a cause higher than my own advancement.
The second observation: preaching must be Bible-based. Personal opinions are expressed in preaching. Applications and observations have to be made to the best of a preacher’s understanding. However, the authoritative part of preaching is that which comes obviously and directly from the Bible. This being the case, as best I can tell, one Bible verse is critical in determining God’s will with regard to the amount we should give. The answer to the question “How much is enough?” hinges on our interpretation and understanding of Matthew 23:23. Our Master said, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
People often say tithing, giving one-tenth of our income to God, was required in the Old Testament only, and is not taught in the New Testament. When I hear this I have to bite my lip to keep from blurting out, “What about Matthew 23:23?”
The “Old Testament only” argument applies to ceremony and ritual. The New Testament book, Hebrews, plainly teaches we no longer need priests or sacrifices.
The “Old Testament only” argument applies to worship on Saturday. Several New Testament texts tell us the early believers had begun worshiping on Sunday.
The “Old Testament only” argument applies to killing people for sex crimes. The way Jesus handled the case of the woman taken in adultery settled this debate.
However, when we try to apply the “Old Testament only” argument to tithing, we choke on Matthew 23:23, one of the most helpful verses in the whole Bible on giving. This text teaches us tithing is not the answer to the world’s problems. It is not the most important part of Christian living. The scribes and Pharisees tithed, but were ungodly. Tithers crucified our Lord. Some of the meanest people I have ever known were tithers. One danger for those of us who tithe is to begin to see it as a huge deal, as the most important aspect of our spiritual lives. It becomes the benchmark, the standard by which we measure our spirituality. It is interesting to note that people who say a tithe is the minimum we should give often treat it also as the maximum. Of course, they would never say this, but do practice it. For many believers, a tithe is all they plan to contribute. Giving thus becomes the only area in their Christian life with a lid on it. We know we are to continue increasing and growing in every other area of Christian living, but in giving we stagnate.
Jesus told the scribes and Pharisees to focus on more important matters, but was also careful to clearly state they should not leave the duty of tithing undone. We might be tempted to say we should not build a whole doctrine out of a casual remark Jesus made in passing. Be careful, dear friend, do not put your hand on the holy. Every word proceeding from Jesus’ mouth is precious. He should not have to state anything twice or thrice for us to heed Him. Once ought to be sufficient.
Had He casually said, “I love flowers,” every church building in Christendom would be filled with flowers. Had He mentioned off the cuff, “I love trees,” every church building would sit in the middle of an orchard. The same respect should be paid to His one remark about the duty of tithing. It should not be left undone.
For me, even if Matthew 23:23 did not exist, it would be hard to believe God would expect less of His people after Jesus died for them than He did before. It seems logical that “more” should be the operative word in our current thinking.
Now hear a parable. On the sixth day of creation, angels were discussing how God would divide His resources among these new creatures known as human beings. Since everything belongs to God, the question under consideration was, how much will He let people use on themselves, and how much will He want returned to Him for His own causes. One angel said, “God is kind. He will want people to keep at least one-third for themselves.” A second angel replied, “The Lord is generous. I think He will want them to keep at least half.” Michael, who works close with God, chimed in, “You don’t understand how much the Father loves these new creatures. I think He will want them to keep at least two-thirds for themselves.” “No way!” the other angels cried, “That’s unreasonable.” At this very moment, Jesus Himself walked by. The angels asked, “Lord, settle this debate. How much do you want people to keep for themselves? We’re deadlocked. One says one-third, one says one-half, Michael says two-thirds. Who is right?” “No one,” said the Lord, “You are all wrong. I want them to keep ninety percent for themselves.” As He walked away, the angels sat in stunned silence. After a few steps, the Lord Jesus turned toward the angels, and with a tear in His eyes, sadly said, “Most of my children will begrudge me the ten percent.” With that, the angels began to cry.
Ruth and I were raised in homes where tithing was taught. We have tithed on every dime we have made as a married couple. Actually, we have given more than ten percent, and during this fundraiser, as in past ones, I guess we will be moving in the direction of approaching twenty percent. I have often thought of this as being impressive. This parable puts it in a new light for me. It’s hard to brag when I see eighty percent kept for myself. “How much is enough?” Probably more than we have ever given before, and maybe more than we ever dreamed of giving. God bless you as you imitate the Macedonians and seek to be led “by the will of God.”