My daughter was in the beautiful wedding of our old neighbors this past weekend, and during the reception, I sat a table with some good friends. One of them, Jennifer, owns a window washing business that her late husband had started years ago. She told me this great story.
He began his business in the Detroit area, back when the economy was strong and the business community was thriving. There were lots of businesses that had lots of windows and from time to time, all those windows needed cleaning; it was a pretty competitive market.
Instead of fearing the competition, however, Jennifer’s husband embraced them, and would regularly invite many of the other window washers to breakfast where they could get to know each other, talk about the business and even encourage each other. When asked by outsiders why he would do such a thing, his response was simple: “There are plenty of windows in Detroit.”
Not only is that a great approach to washing windows, that’s a great approach to living life!
This last Sunday at New Hope, Petoskey, I had the privilege of preaching through 2 Corinthians 8 (click the link to hear that sermon). There is an interesting story in this chapter that lays the foundation for chapter 9. You see, chapter 8 is about a group of Christians who were incredibly generous. They heard about some Christians in Jerusalem who were experiencing horrible persecution for their faith, AND, they were enduring a devastating famine. These believers in chapter 8, from Macedonia, wanted to do something about it and so they gave generously.
What makes their generosity so amazing, is that this group of people were experiencing “severe trials” and extreme poverty themselves! This wasn’t a group of well-to-do people of faith who reached into their deep pockets to throw some coins at the hardship of others, this was a group of poverty stricken followers of Jesus who gave everything they had (which probably wasn’t much, collectively!) to help offset the suffering of others. In fact, Paul says, “They pleaded with me” to give even more. Why did they plead? Probably because Paul couldn’t fathom taking money from the poorest of people in order to help others. But the Macedonian believers wouldn’t have it any other way.
How can a group of people, steeped in trial and poverty, develop a mentality of giving that exceeds their means? Why would people give beyond what’s reasonable when their own needs were so high? I think the answer is found in verse one: “An now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches.” These believers in Macedonia trusted in the all-sufficient capacity of God’s grace.
Between verse 1 and verse 9, the word “grace” appears 4 times, because grace is central to having an abundant mentality when it comes to our giving. If you continue reading 2 Corinthians, chapter 9 begins a fairly comprehensive teaching on what it means to give generously, along with the attitudes and mindset God expects from His children in regards to their earthly possessions. The teachings on generosity in chapter 9, rest firmly on the teaching of abundance here in chapter 8.
Why could the Macedonian believers give so freely out of their poverty? Because they had developed an abundance mentality about God’s grace, being fully convinced that the grace of God would be overly sufficient to meet all of their current and future needs. In other words, “There are plenty of windows!”
Do you find it easy to live with an abundance mindset? Most of us know that God’s grace can truly meet our needs, but do we believe it enough to make life decisions based on it? These Christians from Macedonia believed God’s grace was enough to meet their needs, and so they made some decisions, decisions that many of us would call unwise, to give generously to help meet the needs of others. They rejected scarcity (the belief that there just isn’t enough to go around!) and instead embrace abundance and trusted God to work out the details of their own needs.
The Overboard Life demands an abundance mentality. It requires us to so fully trust the Lord and His ability to meet our needs with His grace, that we will obey Him in anything He asks, going where ever He asks us to go. A few chapters later in this same book, the Apostle Paul would talk about experiencing a terrible “thorn in the flesh” that he would plead with God to remove. God’s answer? Spoiler alert: He didn’t remove the pain. Instead, God replied, “My grace is sufficient for you.” In other words, what Paul needed was a deeper experience with God’s grace, not the removal of whatever it was that was causing so much suffering.
Will you choose today to live in the abundance of God’s grace? Will you adjust your mindset to trust Him no matter what path He has you on, believing that whatever comes your way, whatever chances you have to give and serve, whatever trials you may face, God’s grace will be sufficient to meet your every need? These Macedonian believers trusted God and they leave us a great example to follow!
Go ahead and take the plunge, God’s grace is even better out on the water!