During his ministry, Paul organized a collection of supplies for Church members in Jerusalem who were suffering through a drought. Given the urgent need, many of the Macedonians gave beyond their means.
Paul wrote of their generosity to the Corinthians: “We want you to know brethren, about the grace of God which has been shown in the churches of Macedonia, for in severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of liberality on their part” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2; Revised Standard Version). Notice: The Macedonians’ giving attitude resulted in an abundance of joy!
It wasn’t just the goods the Macedonians gave that impressed Paul, it was their attitude of service. “[B]ut first they gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God” (verse 5; rsv). The Macedonians gave wholeheartedly. That is why they were so joyous.
The Corinthians, on the other hand, desired to serve, but their performance didn’t quite measure up. “I say this not as a command,” Paul wrote, “but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine” (verse 8; rsv).
God wants to prove the same thing about us. Does your performance match your desire to serve? When you give of yourself, do you find yourself giving with the attitude of the Macedonians–or of the Corinthians?
In Matthew 20, Christ’s disciples began getting competitive with each other, debating which would achieve the highest position of authority. That is how most people view leadership: It’s an exalted position where they can exert dominion over those below.
Christ told His disciples that true leadership is actually about service–unselfishly sacrificing for others. “Whoever wants to be the great man among you must be your servant,” He said, “and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of all” (verses 26-27; Moffatt).
Christ, the ultimate leader, gave His life for those under Him as “a ransom for many” (verse 28; Moffatt). That is the essence of godly service.
Romans 12:1 says, “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Sacrifice is the “surrender of something for the sake of something else.” In this case, Paul asks for living sacrifices–living your life in service to others. Paul said this is our reasonable service. Given what God has done for all of us, it’s reasonable for us to be living sacrifices in return!
“If we do only what is required and what we’re supposed to do, in God’s sight, that is not enough,” Hebert W. Armstrong said. “God requires that we do a little more than that. Many of us think if we do just what is required, we’ll get into the Kingdom of God. We’re still thinking of how much we can get. As long as you’re thinking how much you can get, you’re probably not going to get into the Kingdom of God.” God does require certain things from us. But to sacrifice our life in service to God means doing more than what is required. It means we have the right attitude in our service.
Verse 2 also emphasizes the importance of proper attitude, which can be obtained by the daily renewal of your mind (see also 2 Corinthians 4:16). Moffatt translates part of verse 2, “be transformed in nature, able to make out what the will of God is.” God’s will is that we exhibit the same humble, serving, attitude that Christ Himself displayed as He washed His disciples’ feet.
Philippians 2:3 puts it this way: “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.”
Mr. Armstrong often spoke about his life prior to conversion, when he considered himself important in his own eyes. But after a period of catastrophic circumstances and numerous business failures over several years, his self-confidence was smashed. “I took a new look at myself. And what I now saw was pretty humiliating,” he wrote. “I called myself a burned out ‘hunk of junk.’ I felt unworthy to be cast onto a junk pile. At this point a soul-jarring experience and a new self-appraisal resulted in a total about-face. A jolt changed the direction of my life” (Good News, April 1981).
Once he was in a right attitude, God was able to work with him in a powerful way. Through him, God built one of the foremost religious and humanitarian international organizations of the 20th century. And Mr. Armstrong sacrificed for that work and those who supported him for the rest of his natural life!
Whatever our specific responsibilities, there is one thing we can all do: Give to others in service and sacrifice. Acts 20:35 says, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Moffatt translates it, “To give is happier than to get.” The more we give and serve, the more God gives in return–and the happier we will be!
Give yourself in service to God. As you do, God will give back an abundance of blessings. You don’t have to take my word for it–you can prove it! Put this law to the test in your life today!