Discover His heart: He loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)
It’s the time of year we give honor and attention to the one person on this earth we know loves us unconditionally – Mom! The list of great qualities our mothers’ possess is endless, but most will agree that generosity is right near the top. Only a mother would stay up half the night sewing costumes or baking cupcakes for her children. She will give and give until it hurts and then give even more, sometimes to a fault. A mom’s generous spirit reflects the love of God within her. Her thrifty manner with coupons and sales stretches each dollar and provides for the family. Unfortunately, in our reading today the Apostle Paul had to deal with a situation where individuals were less than generous and nothing like our mothers. They hadn’t learned the secret to financial freedom
@2 Corinthians 7
Paul had a turbulent history with the church at Corinth. The Corinthians had been plagued with insurrection within the church, misuse of spiritual gifts and flagrant sin, just to name a few of their problems. Paul addressed their issues with a difficult visit as well as at least one previous letter. Many believe the letter mentioned in verse 8, called the severe or harsh letter, was lost and not recorded in the Bible; others believe it to be I Corinthians. In any case, their response to Paul had been cold at one time.
This letter, probably needed more today than in his day, was a rough one, “I am not sorry that I sent that severe letter to you, though I was sorry at first, for I know it was painful to you for a little while. Now I am glad I sent it not because it hurt you but because the pain caused you to repent and change your ways.” (8-9) At the time of this writing, Paul was in Macedonia facing many conflicts and admitted to discouragement (6), but Titus arrived from Corinth with the good news that the Corinthian church had responded well to the severe letter and Paul was encouraged.
@ 2 Corinthians 8
Paul was encouraged, things were better, and Paul took the big leap and decided to address the M word – money. Paul was a brave man. Citing the example of the very poor Macedonian church and their generous giving to the struggling church in Jerusalem, Paul encouraged the Corinthian church to do the same. “I am not commanding you to do this. But I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches.” (8)
As the saying goes, we know when someone is really a Christian when their commitment reaches all the way to their pocketbook. Paul, always the disciple-maker, was willing to risk his new peace with this congregation to teach them about giving gifts. “Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (11-12)
Paul’s instruction on giving was reasonable. Jesus was more blessed by the extravagant giving of a widow’s all than He was blessed by the considerable gifts of the wealthy in Mark 12:41-44. I want to bless Jesus in that way. In my heart, I want it all to belong to Him so that when a need arises, I’m not counting the cost, counting the percentages or counting the dollar signs. When there is a need somewhere, I want to give with joy, and like the widow, not miss an opportunity to bless Him. To me, this is financial freedom.
Moving Forward: May I approach this day with a generous heart, blessing Him with my response to those in need of help.
Tomorrow @ Exodus 21-24