(Photo credit: PreachersInstitute.com)
S (Scripture): 2 Corinthinas 8:1 We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; 2 for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, 4 begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints— 5 and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, 6 so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.
8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
O (Observation): Paul urges good stewardship amongst ALL followers of Jesus. He encourages all to take on the example of Christ: to deny one’s self and riches for the sake of the other.
The church in Macedonia has shown great generosity, EVEN IN THE MIDST OF THEIR “extreme poverty.” The challenge wasn’t accepted until their bank accounts were filled, with some to spare. No! In the midst of their poverty, God saw fit to have the Macedonian church give DESPITE its general poverty. And an abundance flowed forth…and all “voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means.” This was God’s going, indeed.
A (Application): This kind of story strikes us as Americans. We are a nation built on good, old-fashioned hard work. And every penny saved is a penny earned. Where we pull ourselves up by our own boot straps.
Until – as individuals or families – we can’t…because of illness or old age or because we are alone and have no one by our side.
I’m no advocate for laziness, I’m just an advocate for generosity. Maybe you’ve been privileged enough to not need help…and if that is you, then that isolates you from about 99% of the world. Good for you. As for the 99%…we need help and assistance from time to time.
I have received a LOT of help in my life – financially, and in other ways – and my wife and I are more and more incorporating into our budget ways to be generous to others. We are not necessarily “paying back” those who have helped us. Instead, we are paying forward to help others in need.
Our generosity comes not from our own doing, though we have worked hard in our lives to contribute to society, but rather, our generosity comes as a gift of the Spirit.
When our world tells us to look out for our own, we don’t stop there. We look for our neighbor, as well.
When our world says to hold back, we give.
And with this generosity comes a deep satisfaction that is repaid not always in dollars, but in peace that surpasses understanding.
P (Prayer): Lord, give us glad and generous hearts! Amen. I