READ: 2 Corinthians 8
THINK: A challenge was presented to us earlier this week to consider the God-ordained economic system described in Exodus 16 and ask ourselves, in light of that, what is God’s call upon our lives in the area of our finances? You can click here to read that post, in which 2 Corinthians 8:12-15 was quoted.
“For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have. Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: ‘He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.’” – 2 Corinthians 8:12-15
The challenge we were left with from Exodus 15-16 and the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 8 tend to make us uncomfortable. There are a couple of natural responses to the issues of our generosity and others’ poverty: we consider poverty the government’s problem (whether or not we appreciate their handling of things) and tell ourselves there is no need for our generosity or we force ourselves into an unfortunate state of numbness in which we ignore poverty to the best of our ability to make sure our hearts are never moved enough to give. Those sound a lot worse when you have to read them spelled out, but for the most part we can become pretty comfortable turning a blind eye to the needs around us.
The Macedonians generous response to the needs around them (that Paul applauds them for in this passage) is so drastically different from a natural human response because there is nothing “natural” about it. It requires a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to create in us a selflessness so powerful that we are more concerned with equality (vs. 14) than we are with our own accumulation of wealth or comfort (vs. 14). It requires a supernatural working of the Holy Spirit for rich generosity to pour out of our most severe trials as it did for the Macedonians (vs. 2).
Generosity most certainly does not look the same for everyone, but its important to look closely at ourselves to see if we are truly even being generous – giving as much as we are able and even beyond our ability (vs. 3.) We have the most incredible example in Jesus Christ Himself, “that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (vs.9). If we long to be like him, we must “excel in this grace of giving” (vs. 7).
PRAY: Don’t let fear keep you from the throne of Christ – honestly share your hesitations, your fears, your confusion. Ask for an infusion of the Holy Spirit in your life to lead you, guide you, and give you the courage to be generous.
“The courage to be generous” – that phrase creates a powerful new perspective for me!