Note from Jesus
Dear Child of the Father,
You are never more like the Father than when you generously give to bless others, especially others in need. The Father has graciously poured out His blessings on you in so many ways. My life on earth was an example of the Father's love. That love led the Father to bless and graciously give the best of life to you. So I want you to read carefully through the passages below from Paul. He was addressing the Corinthians about a gift they had promised to give for the poor brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. But after Paul left, they began to procrastinate on bringing this gift to completion.
Paul had high hopes for this gift from the Corinthians. Their gift was part of a larger gift from Gentile Christians given to help the needy Jewish Christians in Jerusalem. The last paragraph of your reading today gives you Paul's words about their gift. In addition to helping the impoverished and persecuted believers in Jerusalem, Paul had a goal to bless the Christians throughout Macedonia, Achaia, and the Roman province of Asia with a connection to the Christians in Jerusalem through their giving. This connection would bind Jewish and Gentile Christians together into one loving family. Unfortunately, as the Corinthians grew cold toward Paul and his ministry, they also grew cold toward helping their brothers and sisters in Jerusalem. Paul felt that he needed to address this situation in his letter to them in the following ways.
- He taught, reminded, and challenged the Corinthians to reawaken their hearts toward generosity. You will read about some of what he taught, reminded, and challenged in the verses below.
- He told the Corinthians about the generosity of their Macedonian brothers and sisters who had been through suffering and persecution in addition to being poor:
[I]n the face of severe anguish and hard times, their elation and poverty have overflowed into a wealth of generosity.Paul wanted the example of the Macedonian Christians to motivate the believers in Corinth into generous action.
- He told the Corinthians that he was sending one of his apprentices, Titus, to Corinth to help them complete their gift. This gift was to be a "gracious work of charity."
- Paul connected to their sense of pride at being a spiritually gifted church that was "rich in everything." He then challenged them to "invest richly in this gracious work" of giving to the needs of the Jerusalem Christians. He wanted them to be great in this gracious gift of giving, too!
- He didn't command the Corinthians to participate in this offering for the believers in Jerusalem. Instead, he challenged them to prove that their love for Me and their love for these brothers and sisters in faith were genuine. In response to the costly grace they had received and by following My example, they were to share with their Christian brothers and sisters who were in deep need. Their love would be proved genuine through their loving action, or it would be proved false by their inaction.
- Paul reminded the Corinthians about a rule of the harvest: "Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously." They were not going to receive nearly all the blessings the Father intended for them if they were miserly and neglectful! The Father longed to bless them so that they could bless others even more. They would never out give the Father. In fact, they would actually be blessed more the more they blessed others in need:
God is ready to overwhelm you with more blessings than you could ever imagine so that you'll always be taken care of in every way and you'll have more than enough to share. ... You will be made rich in everything so that your generosity will spill over in every direction. Through us [Paul and his co-workers] your generosity is at work inspiring praise and thanksgiving to God. For this mission will do more than bring food and water to fellow believers in need — it will overflow in a cascade of praises and thanksgivings for our God.
- At the end of both passages you will read today, Paul finished speaking to their hearts about being generous by reminding them of Me. I was the Father's greatest gift. I was given to redeem them at great cost. (See the sentences in bold below.)
Verses to Live
While this message was directed specifically to the Corinthian disciples about helping their poor brothers and sisters in Jerusalem, the basic principles of Paul's teachings are very powerful for you to remember. You need to grow in the grace of generous giving. The more you share, the more the Father will entrust you to share with others. You will always have enough to share if you share generously. However, your motivation for giving should never be to get more. Instead, your desire to give should be based on your love response to the generous gifts you've received from the Father; you should want to give because you have a desire to bless those in need. You should give because you desire to grow in the grace of giving and be like your Father in heaven.
Now, brothers and sisters, let me tell you about the amazing gift of God's grace that's happening throughout the churches in Macedonia. Even in the face of severe anguish and hard times, their elation and poverty have overflowed into a wealth of generosity. I watched as they willingly gave what they could afford and then went beyond to give even more. They came to us on their own, begging to take part in this work of grace to support the poor saints in Judea.
We were so overwhelmed — none of us expected their reaction — that they truly turned their lives over to the Lord and then gave themselves to support us in our work as we answer the call of God. That's why we asked Titus to finish what he started among you regarding this gracious work of charity. Just as you are rich in everything — in faith and speech, in knowledge and all sincerity, and in the love we have shown among you — now I ask you to invest richly in this gracious work too.
I am not going to command you, but I am going to offer you the chance to prove your love genuine in the same way others have done. You know the grace that has come to us through our Lord Jesus the Anointed. He set aside His infinite riches and was born into the lowest circumstance so that you may gain great riches through His humble poverty.
(2 Corinthians 8:1-9)
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. As it is written:
"They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor;
Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
their righteousness endures forever."
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of the Lord's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
(2 Corinthians 9:6-15 NIV)
Response in Prayer
Almighty and righteous Father, so much in my world pulls at my heart to live for myself and to protect the stuff that is "mine"! But I know, dear Father, that all I have is really Yours. I believe that You have entrusted what I have to bless others as you would want them blessed. So I ask that the Holy Spirit work on my heart as I seek to be more generous. Have the Spirit open my eyes to what You are trying to teach me in Your word about generosity. Have the Spirit help me to filter out the messages of selfishness and greed that are so prevalent in my world. Have the Spirit help me see the ways I can effectively help others with my treasure, talent, and time. I ask this in the name of Jesus, Who gave everything so that I can be Your child. Amen.