vv 3-4 For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.
The boot seems to be on the wrong foot here, doesn’t it! Instead of the Apostle having to urge the Christians in the Church in Macedonia to give generously, these believers had a great urge to respond with generous gifts. They regarded giving as a privilege – not a burdensome obligation. No persuasive tactics necessary, no rattling of the offering boxes, no reminders about their duty to help folk in Jerusalem, no thermometer on the wall as a sign of a target to achieve – no, not even one of those powerful sermons to highlight the financial needs of brothers and sisters with acute problems. It was the fund-raisers dream, people wanted to give, and now hold on, they begged for the privilege of sharing so generously that it went beyond what they could even afford! This was an elastic generosity – it stretched well beyond the comfort zone, its ability to give beyond what might reasonably be expected.
Now, how does our giving match that example? Ours might be reasonable and logical, well-informed and with a Gift-Aid bonus, but is it reckless, stretching our personal finances beyond normal limits? That is generosity to the unreasonable limits of personal pain and hardship.