As if the apostle had said,"Verily these Macedonians, in the liberal distribution of their alms to the poor Christians, have exceeded our hopes and expectation."
First, they gave their own-selves to the Lord, and then unto us by the will of God. They gave themselves, their own-selves, first to the Lord. To give a man's self to the Lord, is more than to give all his estate to him, though, strictly speaking, it is rather a debt than a gift, for we owe ourselves to the Lord. And, O, how infinitely shall we gain by this giving! he gains all, who gives his all to God: God will return it with advantage to him.
Next, the Macedonians, says the apostle, gave themselves unto us by the will of God; that is, they resigned themselves up to us, to be employed by us in such services as we thought meet. It seems they were ready to assist the poor saints, as well with their persons as with their purses.
From the Macedonians giving themselves first to the Lord, and then to the church's service, in all charitable distributions, we learn, That he that does not first dedicate himself, will never dedicate his estate to God; but he that by a deliberate and voluntary dedication gives himself to God, will keep back nothing that he requires from him; yea, he will look upon all that he has and is, as the Lord's: Not an inch of his time, not a penny in his purse, but it is to be employed by, and improved for God. He looks upon God as the owner and proprietor of all, and himself as the steward and dispenser only: Oh! let us, in imitation of these noble, though poor Macedonians, first give ourselves to the Lord, and then we shall never with-hold any thing that is ours from him.