2 Corinthians 8:7 But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
I want to be good at everything, I must admit it. But what I’ve always really wanted was to be really good at something. I seem to be one of those people that has some ability at lots of things. I am like “okay” at lots of things. My wife happens to think this is great and annoying all at the same time. “What don’t you know how to do?” she asks. But just because I know how to do lots of things, doesn’t mean that I do any of them really well. But there’s that guy you play basketball with who is really good at basketball. That’s his gig. He owns you on the court. That guy is not me.
Here in Corinthians, Paul tells us to excel in everything. This word “excel” implies to strive and work at being good at something. I’ll sign up for that; I will try to excel at everything. Faith? Yes, I want to excel in that. Speech? Absolutely, I want to be effective and life giving in my speech. Knowledge? Oh yeah baby. I want to be smart. Giving? (Insert record screech here) Excel in giving? Why in the world would I want to be good at giving?
This is where the disconnect for many of us happens. We want to excel in a whole bunch of spiritual things and we forget that giving is a spiritual act. We can see faith is a platform for maturity, but we fail to see the power of giving. Giving is more than just practical, it is spiritual. Jesus gave like crazy. He gave of His time, His words, His life. He excelled at the grace of giving.
But giving goes beyond just what we think are spiritual things. In this context, Paul is actually talking about money. He is talking about giving where it hurts. We somehow think it is harder to give away our lives, but in practice the money thing holds us hostage. It reveals our greed and our lack of trust in God. It reveals our heart attitudes. We are to excel in giving. We are to put it in to practice. We are to do it really, really well. It should come without reservation.
I find this to be counter-intuitive. Well naturally speaking anyway. When I live life working to preserve myself, giving is the thing I hate the most. But when I let go and let God, I view the world differently. But it requires that I see others as important to God. I need to have the revelation that they are as important to Him as I am. I need to see the bigger work that God is doing around me. It requires that I get outside of myself. When I do this, I will be able to see God’s heart for others as well as I can see His heart for me. It is when I see outside of myself that I will be inspired and compelled to give. This is something I wish to excel at – and it is His calling to all of us: to excel at the grace of giving.