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ARE YOU A MACEDONIAN?
by Philip Owen

            Most believers probably recognize the response expected of them should they be asked, “Are you a Berean?”  The question alludes to the early believers in Berea who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see” whether the things they had heard were founded on the Word of God (Acts 17:11).  Perhaps far fewer of us would know how to respond were we faced with the similar question, “Are you a Macedonian?”  Paul informs the church at Corinth about these noble believers in a fact-filled thumbnail biography of their faith.  As the Bereans provided a pattern for measuring spiritual truth against the Word of God, so the Macedonians exhibit an example of biblical giving.  Of the many salient points Paul notes, we devote our space to the following. 

            1.  Biblical giving begins with reverent submission to God.  In order to be pleasing to God, giving can never be an isolated, financial act.  Nor is it sufficient to recognize a genuine financial need whether of some ministry or some individual saint overcome with financial burdens and to respond because emotionally moved by the need.  Giving that pleases the Lord finds its source neither in the depth of the need nor the power of the emotional response to that need.  Paul explains the Macedonians’ giving thus:  “but they first gave themselves to the Lord” (II Cor. 8:5).  God does not need the help of believers to meet the needs of those promulgating the gospel or of those sitting in the pews.  But He accepts and uses all that is given from those who both love and submit to His will.  And it is also those He blesses.  We should be wary of a solicitation for financial help that magnifies the natural need above the glory of God or that presents a natural need in such a way that God’s character is dishonored.  Those who reverence the Lord and covet only His honor have hearts that are primed to give aright.

            2. Biblical giving lies rooted in submission to God-ordained ministry.  This idea probably would not cross the minds of most of us.  It is particularly striking, then, to recognize Paul’s statement that the Macedonian believers “first gave themselves to the Lord and to us by the will of God.”  By no means is Paul suggesting that a believer has no say-so over to whom or what he donates, or that he is the slave to the dictates of his local pastor.  Nevertheless, Paul does seem to indicate that the needs of the local church and (here in particular) those known and recommended by the local pastor should weigh heavily on decisions regarding where the individual believer contributes support.  Many well-intentioned saints have contributed their hard-earned money to ministries that were not scripturally based because they failed to seek wise counsel regarding the soundness of the person or organization they were supporting.  No minister should dictate to what ministry a believer contributes; however, no believer should contribute to a ministry without a sense that it is in keeping with what his pastor preaches from the pulpit (assuming he is faithful to the Word of God).

            3.  Biblical giving acknowledges the privilege of giving.  Giving should be seen, not as an obligation, but as a privilege.  Paul describes the Macedonians as “begging us with much urging for the favor of participating in the support of the saints” (v. 4).  Wow.  Now here are saints with the right spirit.  They do not pry open their wallets hoping not to feel guilty that they gave one musty dollar.  They “beg”; they “urge” Paul to give them the “favor” of helping to support needy believers in Jerusalem.  They recognize and appreciate the blessings of salvation that God has bestowed on them, and they are zealously seeking for opportunities return some of the blessing they’ve received.

             So, are you a Macedonian?

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