They First Gave Themselves to the Lord
by Jacob Hudgins
“And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God”(2 Cor 8:5)
Paul was bragging on the Macedonians—people who though poor had made an incredible gift to their needy Jewish brethren. “For I bear them witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing”(2 Cor 8:3). They gave in a tremendous, sacrificial way—in a way that went beyond their ability. What could make people give like that? Paul clues us in: “they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God”.
“They first gave themselves to the Lord” speaks of surrendering all we are to Jesus—a complete self-sacrifice. It is more than merely saying words of honor to the Lord, or giving him some physical gift. The gift we give the Lord is ourselves. Without reservation or qualification, we lay our hearts, wills, lives, families, desires, strengths, and weaknesses at his feet.
“and then to us by the will of God”(2 Cor 8:5) means that after the initial offering of self, a response like this one naturally follows. My heart already belongs to Jesus, so if this is his messenger, I will obey Him. My money already belongs to Jesus, so if it is his will that I send it to needy brethren, I will. This does not mean that this is always a cut-and-dry process, but it does mean that our decision has already been made by our commitment to the Lord.
We often struggle with the demands of the gospel. Must I hold these scriptural stances? Must I abstain from these worldly activities? Must I worship in this way? Must I go to church? If we first give ourselves to the Lord, these struggles melt away. To be sure, we must still fill in the information, we must still grow into consistency, but the question “Must I” fades into the background.
Have you given yourself to the Lord?