Daily Devotional 3-16-16

Word on Wednesday – by John Mason

Giving  March 16, 2016

Money matters. It is sometimes said that the Bible teaches that money is evil. That is not so. The Bible tells us it is the love of money that is the problem. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that we should view money as our servant, something to be used for service. 

In 2 Corinthian 8:7-9 we read: 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. 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.

In 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 Paul writes of an Appeal he was taking up in Asia to assist impoverished Christians in Judea. At first the Corinthians had responded well to the idea. But they seemed to have forgotten that they had pledged further contributions. They needed reminder.

Part of Paul’s strategy was to point to the generosity of the poorer churches in Macedonia in the north: ‘You don’t want to be outdone by the churches up-state, do you?’ he asks. Many churches in the western world today deserve to be embarrassed when we hear of the generosity of some churches in the emerging world.

What Paul writes is a model fund-raising letter as he sets out why God’s people should give.

* Sacrificial giving. Macedonia was an exploited impoverished colony. God’s people there had suffered persecution, often losing jobs and property. Yet instead of using lack of resources as an excuse for reducing their contribution, the Macedonians had increased their giving (8:2-3a). 

* Enthusiastic giving. The Macedonians were begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints (8:4). They counted such an opportunity a privilege, literally a ‘grace’. They really believed what the Lord Jesus taught: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’. 

* Faith-driven giving. In 8:5 Paul tells us that the Macedonians were not just giving money to the church in Jerusalem, they were giving themselves to the Lord. Their genuine concern for others sprang from their own relationship with Jesus Christ. It was because their lives were centered on him that they were motivated to extravagance and cheerfulness in their giving.

* Incarnational Giving!  2 Corinthians 8:9 is sometimes described as the jewel in the crown of Paul’s appeal to give. He speaks of the existence of Christ before his birth – he was rich. From all eternity Christ had been enthroned in the splendor and glory of heaven. Paul speaks of the birth of Christ – he became poor. He took to himself something that in all eternity he had never known – poverty. We also see Christ’s generosity – so that you through his poverty might become rich. 

Christ condescended to a monumental humiliation – his lowly birth in Bethlehem and his ignominious death at Calvary – so that he could enrich us. We give, says Paul, because God gave. Anyone who understands what Christ has done cannot help but be generous themselves.

Consider:

1.   the context of Paul’s appeal to the Corinthians; 

2.   the example of the giving of the Macedonians;

3.   the impact of verse 9 – we give because of Christ.

 Let me encourage you to pray

The daily Bible readings and reflections, Reason for Hope for Lent conclude the day before Easter. There’s still time to sign up at: http://eepurl.com/bPVvBX.

© John G. Mason – www.anglicanconnection.com