“But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” 2 Corinthians 8:7
I find this verse very challenging, not least because the concept of “excelling at grace” is a strange one. How do you get better at grace? How can I excel at something that is meant to be a gift, something that doesn’t require my efforts?
The other thing that throws me is that the Corinthians were “excelling” in everything! I wish the same could be said of me. Excelling in faith, excelling in speech, excelling in knowledge and love – I’d be happy with these things! Yet Paul encourages them to not forget to give: he sees it as an essential part of the Christian faith, vital to their development as followers of Jesus.
Grace doesn’t just save us – it enables us too. The gospel isn’t just the way that we enter the kingdom of God, it’s the way that we live in it too. Grace is our oxygen, our lifeblood, our sustenance as Christians. When we view it this way, of course he connects grace to giving. We need grace to give – when we realise what God has done for us, and what he can do through our giving, we become motivated to give. Grace isn’t opposed to giving – it’s the fuel for it.