5 And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.
5 And not only as we had hoped,
The Macedonian Christians went far beyond Paul’s hope in their giving.
but they first gave themselves to the Lord,
The Macedonians gave themselves to the Lord first; then they gave from their resources. “First” here is first in priority, not in time.
and then to us [Paul’s team] by the will of God.
First they gave themselves to the Lord, and then they committed to Paul, Titus, and Timothy’s ministry. They accepted authority from their leadership.
The “will of God” was their operating principle of giving to others. They knew God’s will in this matter. The will of God made them willing (Php 2:13).
Generosity stems from devotion to Christ.
Giving to the Lord begins by giving oneself first. The foundation of giving lies within ourselves. All biblical giving must be delivered from the soul because a person is motivated to do so, and not from pressure. Giving from the soul precedes giving one’s resources. Thus, giving is a soul activity. Giving that does not come from the soul is like having sex with no interest in the partner. Giving originates in what God has done for us in grace, in the work of Christ. This is giving that originates in love for the Lord. The overt act of giving is an extension of the soul blessed by God’s grace.
The amount one gives is not as significant as the attitude from which one contributes to Christ. It is the spirit from which one gives rather than the amount per se.
All that God has given us, we hold in trust. If we give ourselves to the Lord, it is easy to give our means. All biblical giving is a personal matter, a surrender of oneself to the Lord. Living in the will of God produces adequate giving to the cause of Christ.