Wealth in Poverty (8:2)

Paul gives an incredible description of the churches of Macedonia. They were in “extreme poverty” but also “overflowed in a wealth of generosity.” We tend to think of wealth as a commodity and generosity as a disposition. Paul seemingly reverses that mindset. He speaks of generosity as a commodity and wealth as the disposition.

In our current economic situation it is easy to become pessimistic, cynical, and tight-fisted. We tend to have this reaction when we think of money as our primary asset. When we begin to view our faith, relationships, love, and character as our primary assets, it is easier to maintain encouragement and generosity.

Application: What do I have to give? That should be a question that is on my mind frequently and the only response should not be money. When we are generous towards God and others with our time, encouragement, talents, homes, emotions, affection, compliments, and interests, then we will find (most often) that we have adopted a heart of generosity that transforms what we do with our money.

Jesus: The Model Giver

When Paul was discussing financial giving and the Christian faith (2 Cor 8-9) he places the example of Jesus in the middle of the discussion (2 Cor 8:9). There are many reasons given about why Christians are called to give. I think the most important is “to be like God.”

We serve an amazingly generous God and the pinnacle expression of this generosity is Jesus’ willingness to step out of heaven and bear the penalty for our sin. If we say we want to be more like Jesus, then generosity must be on our “to become” list.

Consider these truths to spur you towards greater generosity.

  • Life is a gift we could not earn.
  • Health is a gift we could not earn.
  • Love is a gift we could not earn.
  • Natural talent is a gift we could not earn.
  • Relationships are a gift we could not earn.
  • Faith is a gift we could not earn.
  • Hope is a gift we could not earn.
  • Heaven is a gift we could not earn.
  • The Bible is a gift we could not earn.
  • Salvation is a gift we could not earn.
  • Peace is a gift we could not earn.
  • Forgiveness is a gift we could not earn.

As we consider all that you have been in given and by Christ, let us be motivated to model His generosity as a witness to our great Savior.

Finish Well (8:11)

Paul recognized the temptation of not finishing well that becomes more prevalent during difficult financial times. During difficult times we become more dependant upon the “follow through” of one another. There is not as much margin to catch our slack. For this reason, it is clear to exhort the Corinthians to complete their proposed giving.

Reflection: What commitments have you made? Who is currently waiting on you to do what you said you would? Have you become nonchalant with your willingness to say “yes” to things? Have you made pledges to a church or ministry that set its budget based upon your commitment (BTW – Crossroads does not have a pledge-based budget so that is not a self-serving question)?

Application: Recognize that every time you say “yes” to something you are coming under Matthew 5:37, “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.”  This is a reminder that we need to take our word seriously. In the effort to have generous hearts (see above) this is only virtuous if we follow through and finish well.