2 Corinthians 8:5
And not only did they do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us, because it was the will of God.
Sermons
ConsecrationThe Preacher's Assistant.2 Corinthians 8:5
DedicationJ.R. Thomson 2 Corinthians 8:5
Dedication of Ourselves to GodAlex. Dick.2 Corinthians 8:5
On Dedication to GodS. Lavington.2 Corinthians 8:5
Praiseworthy ChurchesD. Fraser 2 Corinthians 8:5
Self-Dedication to GodA. Bonar.2 Corinthians 8:5
The Best DonationC. H. Spurgeon.2 Corinthians 8:5
The Religion of Association Must be Made PersonalR. Tuck 2 Corinthians 8:5
Ancient Charity the Rule and Reproof of ModernSermons by American Clergymen.2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Christian LiberalityF. W. Robertson, M. A.2 Corinthians 8:1-5
MoneyJ. Denney, B. D.2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Pure BenevolenceHomilist2 Corinthians 8:1-5
The Grace of LiberalityJ. M. Bolland, A. M.2 Corinthians 8:1-5
The Grace of LiberalityD. J. Burrell, D. D.2 Corinthians 8:1-5
The Grace of LiberalityAddison P. Foster.2 Corinthians 8:1-5
Christian Liberality in the Macedonian ChurchesC. Lipscomb 2 Corinthians 8:1-6
A Pattern of CharityE. Hurndall 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
If it seems strange to us that a large portion of an inspired Epistle should be occupied with directions as to a charitable collection which was going forward at the time, it should be remembered; that Christianity introduced into human society new and more powerful principles of benevolence, and further, that the new and Divine revelation was one which laid the foundation for this as for all human duties in the character and action of God himself.

I. THE PRIMARY AND ALL-IMPORTANT DEDICATION IS THAT OF THE WHOLE PERSONAL NATURE UNTO THE LORD.

1. This appears when it is recollected that the Lord has first given himself for us. His sacrifice thus becomes the ground of our consecration.

2. Our very constitution, taken in connection with our natural relation to our Lord, points to such a dedication. "No man liveth unto himself." Our "chief end is to glorify God."

3. This spiritual consecration is pre-eminently acceptable to God. His demand is, "Give me thine heart." Every gift which does not flow from this is vain and worthless in his sight.

II. THE DEDICATION OF SELF TO THE LORD SHOULD BE FOLLOWED BY THE DEDICATION OF SELF TO THE LORD'S PEOPLE. Paul looked for the brotherhood, the confidence, the cooperation of his converts, and indeed of all Christian people whom Divine providence might bring into contact with him. The Corinthians apparently wished to be personally associated with him in the ministration to the Judaean Christians who were in poverty, and their wish was a source of satisfaction and joy to him.

III. TRUE CHRISTIAN CONSECRATION INVOLVES THE GIFT OF PROPERTY TO THE LORD'S CAUSE. It is sometimes objected against calls for liberality that God cannot be enriched by our giving. This is true, yet God's people may receive advantage, and Christ has shown us that what is done for his people is done for himself. As most people value their possessions, their generosity is a proof of the sincerity of their love and the reality of their consecration.

"How can I, Lord, withhold
Life's brightest hour
From thee; or gathered gold,
Or any power?
Why should I keep one precious thing from thee,
When thou hast given thine own dear self for me?" = - t.







And... first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
Here we see Paul disappointed, though he was never discontented. "This they did, not as we hoped." Paul's disappointment was concerning money, although that was a thing the apostle never cared about at all. But his expectations were not realised on this occasion because they were exceeded. He had only hoped that they would give a little, for they were not rich people; but their liberality was up to the utmost limit of their power, "yea, and beyond their power." Our gifts are not to be measured by their amount, but by the surplus kept in our own hand. Not only did these Macedonian believers give much, but "they were willing of themselves." The apostle did not have to organise a "Fancy Fair" to wheedle the money out of them, nor even to urge them to their duty. But these Macedonians gave more than money: they gave themselves. This was the best donation; better even than the two mites of the poor widow. She gave her living; but they gave their life.

I. THESE PEOPLE ARE AN EXAMPLE TO US. The great works of the world are not done by the great people of the world; but as the tiny coral insects, patiently working unseen, produce large results, it often happens that the weakest brethren bestow large blessings. They are an example because —

1. They followed the right order. They did the first thing first. "They first gave their own selves to the Lord." It spoils even good things when you reverse the right order, and put the cart before the horse. Did you ever hear of the servant who first dusted the room and then swept it? This is the first thing, because —(1) It is of the first importance. If you are Christ's, join Christ's people; but the first thing is, see to it that you are Christ's. Everything else is a poor second in comparison with this.(2) It makes the second thing valid. If it does not come first, the second is good for nothing. The man who gives himself to the people of God, before giving himself first to God, does wrong to God, to the Church, and to himself, and is thus a threefold offender.(3) It leads to the second. These Macedonians would never have given themselves to the Church if they had not first given themselves to God; for in those days to join the Church meant shame, persecution, and frequently death.

2. They were free in what they did. They "first gave." The only pressure put upon them was that which made them willing in the day of God's power. The religion which is pressed by surroundings, friends, or the demands of society is not worth having. They gave themselves, also, wholly and unreservedly. This is proved by the fact that their money followed the gift of their own selves.

3. They acted in obedience to "the will of God."(1) They felt that it was right to give themselves to the Lord first, because Christ had bought them with His blood. This is the apostle's argument (chap. 14, 15).(2) They felt the same thing about giving themselves to the apostle, and the Church. It is the will of God that you who love Him should be numbered with His people. It is for your comfort, growth, preservation. You owe something to the Church. By its means the preaching of the gospel has been kept alive in the world. Through its preaching you have been converted.(3) So also in regard to helping the poor. Christ is the poor man's truest Friend; and those who give themselves to Christ must give of their substance to the poor, and thus lay up "treasure in heaven."

II. LET US FOLLOW THEIR EXAMPLE.

1. Give yourself to the Lord. Do not wait to make yourself better, or to feel better. Until you have given yourself to Him, He cannot accept any other offering. Unless you are really Christ's, you cannot be truly happy. Nor can we be safe. Only His power can save us from our adversary, the devil. Some of us gave ourselves to Christ forty years ago, some thirty; some twenty; some ten; some only quite lately. Well, do you wish to run back?

2. Give yourself to the Church.(1) Not that you will find it perfect. If I had waited till I had found one that was perfect, I should never have joined one at all; and if I had found one, it would not have been perfect after I had become a member of it. Still, imperfect as it is, it is the dearest place on earth to us.(2) How else is there to be a Church in the earth? If it is right for any one to refrain from membership in the Church, it is right for every one, and then the testimony of God would be lost to the world.(3) It is due to our fellow-workers. Some of them are fainting for want of helpers. It is a hot autumn day, and a man is reaping; the sweat pours from his face, and he fears that he will never get to the end of the field; and all the time you are pleasantly occupied leaning over a gate, and saying to yourself, "That is an uncommonly good labourer." Or, perhaps, instead of doing that, you are saying, "Why, he does not handle the sickle properly! I could show him a better way of reaping." The work of the Church is generally left to a few earnest folk. Is that right?(4) Think again, what a lack of fellowship there will be if those who have given themselves to the Lord do not also give themselves to His people. Possibly you ask, "What should I gain by joining the Church?" That is a miserable question to put. Do you know how much you will lose by not joining the Church? You will lose —

(a)The satisfaction of having done your Lord's will.

(b)The joy of fellowship with your brethren.

(c)The opportunity of helping by your example the weak ones of the flock.

3. Give yourself both to the Lord and to His Church. Put the two together, and thus begin to place yourself wholly in the line of God's will. Do this —(1) That you may bear witness for Christ. Here are certain people who, with all their faults, are the true followers of Christ. Join them, and say, "I, too, am a follower of Christ." That is what church membership means.(2) To spread the gospel. Everybody is needed in this service to-day; for the clear light of the gospel is sadly obscured in many places.(3) To maintain the Church. Nothing in the world is dearer to God's heart than His Church; therefore, being His, let us also belong to it, that by our prayers, gifts, labours, we may strengthen it.(4) That you may grow in love, and continue to prove your love to your Lord and His Church.

(C. H. Spurgeon.)

I. TO CONSIDER WHAT IS NECESSARILY SUPPOSED IN THE EXERCISE HERE MENTIONED.

1. We would observe that this giving of ourselves to the Lord must certainly suppose our having cordially believed on and embraced the Lord Jesus Christ, with our whole heart and soul, in all His saving offices and relations.

2. It supposeth our having, by grace, made a free and hearty choice of God in Christ as our God and portion (Psalm 73:26; Psalm 16:1).

3. It supposeth our hearty approbation and embracing of God's well-ordered Covenant (2 Samuel 23:5).

II. WHAT MAY BE IMPLIED IN GIVING OURSELVES UNTO THE LORD. And on this we would notice —

1. That there are some things which cannot, strictly speaking, be said to be this giving of ourselves to the Lord.

2. What of ourselves we are to give unto the Lord; and —

3. Upon what grounds and principles we should thus give ourselves unto the Lord.

1. It cannot properly be said that we can, by any act or disposition of our own, make ourselves to be God's creatures; for no creature can give existence to itself; He made us, and not we ourselves.

2. Neither can we, by any act of our own wills or exercise of our own power, make ourselves God's redeemed.

3. Neither can we, by any act of our own, make ourselves more to be God's than we were before, nor add anything to the moral obligations we were under, antecedent to any such giving of ourselves; for, by our very nature, we should be wholly for God.

1. It implieth our giving all the powers and faculties of our souls to God.

2. It implieth that we give our hearts to God.

3. It implieth that we give our consciences to God — give them up wholly to His will and authority. Some give their consciences to their friends.

4. All real Christians give their wills to God to be wholly directed and influenced by His authority, and they firmly resolve to have no will but His.

5. Real Christians give all the authority, power, and influence God has given them wholly to His service, whether it be as a head of a family, an elder, a minister, or a magistrate, to be all employed in the service and on the side of religion.

6. We should, and all real Christians do, give their name and reputation to the Lord.

7. Real Christians give their walk and conversation to the Lord, aiming by grace to conform their external walk to the letter of the law, and their internal walk agreeably to the Spirit of God's holy law.

8. Real Christians give their spirits to the Lord, that is, the temper, frame, and disposition of their souls. Oh, how many are a disgrace to religion by their haughty, stiff, untractable spirits and dispositions.

9. Real Christians will give unto the Lord all they have — all the substance the Lord has made them stewards of.

10. As said before, real Christians give their bodies, and all the members thereof, to the Lord.

11. Christians should, and real Christians do, give their time to the Lord; for as all the time they have is from the Lord, it is surely their duty to dedicate it to Him, to be employed in His service.

III. Which was to consider UPON WHAT GROUND REAL CHRISTIANS GIVE THEMSELVES UNTO THE LORD. And —

1. Real Christians give themselves to the Lord upon the ground of God's giving Himself in Christ unto them, to be their God and portion; "I will be your God."

2. Real Christians give themselves to the Lord, on the ground of God Incarnate giving Himself for them; "He suffered the just for the unjust."

3. They give themselves to the Lord, upon the ground of a three-one God giving Himself to them.

4. They give themselves to the Lord on the ground of the Covenant, fulfilled in all its legal conditions, as ratified in and with the blood of Christ (Ezekiel 16:6; Isaiah 55:1, 3, 4).

5. They give themselves to the Lord upon the ground of the promise.

6. Real Christians give themselves to the Lord on the ground of the sweet, efficacious, and powerful influences of the Spirit of all grace.

7. Real Christians give themselves unto the Lord on the ground of its being the will and command of the Lord, and in obedience to His authority; and without this all the other grounds would be to no purpose.

IV. THE MANNER IN WHICH THE CHRISTIAN IS TO GIVE HIMSELF UNTO THE LORD. And —

1. The Christian is to give himself unto the Lord in faith.

2. The Christian must do it with knowledge and understanding.

3. The Christian is to do this evangelically, that is, upon gospel principles, in a gospel spirit, and to gospel uses and ends.

4. Real Christians give themselves to the Lord in love. It is not a work of their understandings only, but also of the heart — of the whole soul.

5. They do it publicly, openly, and avowedly.Application:

1. Hence we may learn who they are, who we may expect will give themselves unto the servants of the Lord, and yield a cordial subjection to every ordinance of the Lord. They are just such as have first given themselves unto the Lord.

2. Hence we may learn in what sense, and upon what grounds, and how far Christians are to give themselves unto the servants of the Lord, even to the Apostles of the Lord, in conformity with His will and command. They are to do so in so far, and no farther than as they keep by the will of the Lord revealed in His Word.

3. We may learn that as real Christians ought not, so neither will they be averse to, nor backward in giving themselves unto the Lord.

(Alex. Dick.)

Such is the instructive representation here set before us of the faithful servants of Jesus Christ in Macedonia. The contrast stated in the second verse of this chapter, between their inward feelings and their outward circumstances, is inimitably beautiful, and shows what mighty things the grace of God can accomplish. Here your contemplations are naturally directed to the powerful influence of the gospel at the promulgation of Christianity. You behold the heathen nations lying in darkness and the shadow of death. They awake to newness of life; they rise to active exertions in the cause of God.

I. To SET BEFORE YOU THE EXAMPLE OF THESE MACEDONIAN CHURCHES.

1. This giving of themselves to Him implies unfeigned reliance on His infinite merits, or the unreserved surrender of their heart to the Lord Jesus Christ, to be by Him redeemed, renewed, and sanctified. These men of Macedonia, before their conversion to Christ, were in a state of distance and estrangement from the Divine favour.

2. Giving themselves to the Lord implies sincere dedication of their time and talents to the honour and service of that blessed Redeemer in whom they have believed.

3. Giving themselves to the Lord implies an unreserved surrender of their lot to His unerring disposal.

II. To RECOMMEND TO YOUR IMITATION THE EXAMPLE OF THE MACEDONIAN CHURCHES.

1. Your giving yourselves to the Lord is your duty. Jesus is worthy.to receive all blessing, dominion, and glory.; therefore it is acting a wise part to give yourselves to Him who waits to be gracious, and who most justly challenges your supreme veneration. In Himself He possesses every excellence. Angels adore Him. United with His personal excellence, contemplate the wonders of His redeeming love.

2. Your giving yourselves to the Lord is a privilege, and connected with your best interests here and hereafter. He well knows all your circumstances, weaknesses, and wants, and is able to help you in every time of need. Give yourselves then to the Lord, and He will strengthen your heart. Perhaps you may ere long be called to difficult duties and arduous services. If you have given yourself to the Lord, you are warranted to triumph.

3. Having urged your imitation of the example mentioned in my text, from the motives of wisdom and of safety, I have only to add that solid comfort and exalted hopes are the happy consequences of giving yourselves to the Lord.I conclude by addressing myself in the improvement of this discourse.

1. To the young, vigorous, and healthy. Give yourselves this day to the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. To those who have received Christ Jesus the Lord. Renew this day your dedication of yourselves to Him.

3. To those who have devoted themselves to the God of their salvation. Resign all your interests to His unerring disposal.

(A. Bonar.)

I. WHAT IS IMPLIED IN GIVING OURSELVES TO THE LORD?

1. He has a natural and unalienable right to us as the author of our existence. Besides this, He has redeemed us. Yet He expects that we should confirm His right to us by our own voluntary surrender.

2. We had sold ourselves to sin, and the world had too much reason to claim us for its own. To give ourselves to the Lord implies that we renounce all former dependence and attachments, and that thus disengaged from all rivals, we present our bodies and spirits an unreserved sacrifice to God.

II. HOW WE ARE TO GIVE OURSELVES TO THE LORD.

1. With humility and reverence. Remember that you are engaged with the greatest Being in the universe.

2. Deliberately; with the prudence and caution of those who know what they are doing. Rash promises are seldom observed. Zeal without knowledge soon becomes cold.

3. Cheerfully; not by constraint, but willingly. Consider yourselves as going to receive, not confer, a favour; and let gratitude and joy mingle with all that you do.

4. Immediately. How long halt ye between two opinions?

III. WHY THIS SHOULD BE OUR FIRST AND PRINCIPAL CONCERN. Because —

1. God has the first and indisputable claim to us.

2. It may otherwise never be done. How common is it for men, when their consciences urge them to this self-dedication, to put it off to a more convenient season!

3. All other things will then succeed better. It is the blessing of the Lord that maketh rich.

(S. Lavington.)

I. FIRST, WE MUST GIVE OUR OWN SELVES. Does that mean that I am to say my prayers, read my Bible, come to Church, and do what is kind and good? Certainly. Yet you may do all this and your own self not be given. The giving of ourselves to God is, first, the present of a thoughtful mind. But, more, the giving of ourselves is the present of a loving heart. The Macedonians gave money and gave effort, but the essential point is that they "first, gave their own selves to the Lord." An earnest Christian says: "Nearly four years ago, I was to spend the day in a large city. Before starting I said to my dear invalid sister, now in glory, 'Can I buy anything for you, dear? I do want so much to bring you something from the city.' She interrupted the question, saying, with such a sweet, yearning look, 'Nothing, dear. Do not bring anything. I only want you. Come home as soon as you can.'" She goes on to say: "The tender words rang in my ears all the day, and oh, how often since her bright entrance within the gates have her touching words and loving look returned to my memory." Let us ask ourselves if this is not what our Saviour desires of us. Christ knows that if He gets any one's love He gets that one's self and service. If we give the heart it follows that we have made a present of ourself once for all. Is it not a shabby thing when giving a present to be thinking how much you will need to give and how much you may keep for yourself? Is it not even more shabby when you have once given to be seeking back what you have given? There is nothing of that when the gift really comes from love. The heart given, and once for all, without reserve, then there may follow all the active effort we desire to give.

II. THE REASON WHY WE SHOULD GIVE OURSELVES.

1. Because it is right. "We are not our own, we are bought with a price."

2. It is for our highest happiness. To be sure, there is renunciation in consecration, but there is also rich compensation.

3. For the world's good and happiness. The Macedonians first gave their own selves, then their liberality and good works abounded towards others. The world needs heart-enlisted Christians.

(The Preacher's Assistant.)

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