First Things First
2 Corinthians 8:1: Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; 2 How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. 3 For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; 4 Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. 5 And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.
But first gave their own selves to the Lord. They first made an entire consecration of themselves and all that they had to the Lord. They kept nothing back. They felt that all they had was his. And where a people honestly and truly devote themselves to God, they will find no difficulty in having the means to contribute to the cause of charity.
Jamieson Faucet Brown:
First, not indicating priority of time, but first of all, above all in importance. The giving of themselves takes precedency of their other gifts, as being the motive which led them to the latter.
They gave themselves to us, by the will of God-In obedience to his will, to be wholly directed by us.
They first gave themselves up to the Lord, devoting themselves to his service and glory, and then to us, the will of God so ruling and directing them.
First, giving themselves over to the Lord; and then, yielding themselves to be swayed and disposed of by our ministry, according to the will of God.
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.
If we haven*t given ourselves to the Lord we haven*t done the first thing. Have you given yourself to the Lord? Are you in His will? Have you given yourselves to Biblical Christian leadership? Have you had great trials of affliction and yet an abundance of joy?
Matthew 6:31: Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
Philippians 4:16: For even in Thessalonica ye sent once and again unto my necessity. 17 Not because I desire a gift: but I desire fruit that may abound to your account. 18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. 19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
If you fully believe the two promises in bold type you will have no problem with giving yourself to the Lord. Your flesh is a thief and will steal you back and you will have to give yourself to the Lord again and again.