“Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also.” (2 Corinthians 8:6–7, KJV)
Throughout history, there have been those who have been called renaissance men. What is a renaissance person? The dictionary defines a renaissance man as a person who has wide interests and is an expert in several areas. The idea stems from a humanistic philosophy as expressed by one of its earliest ambassadors, Leon Alberti in the 1400s, “a man can do all things if he will. One of the most known renaissance men is Leonardo DaVinci who lived from 1452-1519 who was gifted in art, science, music, invention, and writing. (Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia) There are many characteristics of a renaissance man. Perhaps a couple of the most prominent are the feeling that they can do anything they wish if they study, apply knowledge, and persevere until they master that which they undertake.
However, the problem with the classic definition of the renaissance man is that which Alberti quoted, “a man can do all things if he wills.” Man cannot do anything he wills. Even the renaissance man has limitations. While all people have creative abilities, no man can create matter from nothing. No man has infinite foreknowledge and infinite foreordination. These infinite abilities belong to God alone. He alone is omniscient and omnipotent. He has the power and knowledge to do the impossible.
The truth of the matter is that people can do anything that is within the will of God for them to do. Yet it is not by one’s own strength. Believers can do great things, things that might seem impossible. However, they can only accomplish these great things in accordance with God’s will and then only by His grace alone. By God’s grace believers can do anything the Lord asks of them. We can be renaissance believers able to do anything that God calls us to do by His grace at work in us. See Paul’s words, “But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10, KJV).
In the Christian faith, we often are asked to do difficult things. Sometimes these are things we do not think that we can do. Paul stated that those in Corinth were to “abound in every thing.” Strong indicates that the verb “abound,” perisseuo, means to superabound either in quantity or quality (Strong G4052). Paul went on to list virtues in which the church was to superabound such as faith, speech, knowledge, diligence, and love. Then he added in the context of giving or generosity that they should “abound in this grace also. The English Standard Version translates perisseuo as “excel.” Believers are to excel in these virtues, including that of giving. Believers are to abound in the quality of these virtues.
By God’s grace, every believer can excel in these virtues. In the area of giving, it is not the amount of money that is the issue. It is the quality of giving. It is an issue of the heart. The Macedonians were poor and yet they demonstrated those who excelled in giving. Remember that Jesus commended the poor widow who put in two copper coins, all she had into the offering box. She excelled in giving.
Today the needs of others and churches have not changed. There are people all over the world who are struggling. There are likely some in our own churches. Often there are pastors and missionaries who are barely scraping by. God has given to most of us great abundance. We give out of our wealth not our poverty. Let us excel in this act of grace as in the others.