For several decades I was pretty disciplined with exercise. For about two years I ran about five miles nearly every day. After a knee operation, I decided rollerblading would put less stress on the joints. For about a dozen years, I “bladed” between ten to twenty miles per day. It helped my eating habits, waistline, and blood pressure. Then, I started walking. For the nearly twelve years I walked three to five miles almost every day. But I haven’t been nearly as disciplined with exercise as I once was. I’m still walking, but it seems harder to get this old body in motion than it used to be.
How disciplined are you? Many show great discipline in exercise, diet, work ethic, or other needed things. But, did you know God expects us to be very disciplined in the matter of giving? Three times in II Corinthians Chapter 8 God refers to giving as a “grace” we are to grow in. A year earlier Paul had shared his burden for the Jewish saints in Jerusalem who were in desperate poverty. Paul taught that giving to them would be giving to the Lord, and they had promised to do so. Now Paul sends Titus to gather their offering and “…finish in you the same grace also” (II Corinthians 8:6). As some of the more financially affluent saints, such giving would not have been a hardship. Paul told them: “…ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also” (II Corinthians 8:7). Paul wanted them to see that giving to the Lord was just as important as any other area in their spiritual life. It was also, in effect, a test as to how spiritual they really were. Would their walk be one of only talking the talk, or truly walking their talk as a believer? How they gave, or would not give, would be a gauge. Paul also took special measures to insure the integrity of how these funds would be handled. Only trustworthy men would carry these funds to Jerusalem, and he explained they would “…travel with us with this grace” (II Corinthians 8:19).
The definition of “grace” is more than “unmerited favor.” In II Corinthians Chapter 8, Paul uses it to mean a discipline in giving. Whether for the first time, or to begin anew, now is the time to become disciplined in giving.
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