8 God has the power to provide you with more than enough of every kind of grace. That way, you will have everything you need always and in everything to provide more than enough for every kind of good work. 9 As it is written, He scattered everywhere; he gave to the needy; his righteousness remains forever [Psalm 112:9].
10 The one who supplies seed for planting and bread for eating will supply and multiply your seed and will increase your crop, which is righteousness. 11 You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous in every way. Such generosity produces thanksgiving to God through us.
The idea of Gentile believers helping poor Christians in Jerusalem apparently started when Paul met the key Jerusalem church leaders earlier in his ministry (cf. Galatians 2:9-10). But after his travels and church-planting in Macedonia and Greece, the idea got bigger. When he told the Corinthians that “you will have everything you need always and in everything” scholar Craig Keener wrote that “The Greek term meant having enough but also often applied to the virtue of contentment. Some sages insisted that one need have nothing to be content, but most recognized that having enough required meeting at least the fundamental needs of life.”* The Corinthian believers didn’t look wealthy to human eyes (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29). Yet the apostle (not financially rich himself) joyfully told them that God’s generosity gave them material as well as spiritual resources they could share with their suffering fellow believers in Jerusalem.
Loving God, help me not to talk so much about my faith that I forget that words can’t fully describe the gift you’ve given me. I thank you with a heart full of wonder and praise. Amen.
* Zondervan, NIV, Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible, eBook (Kindle Locations 264420-264421).
This week my friend Carol, who works in the food pantry at our Overland Park campus, posted about an experience she had:
“After a long, but very productive day doing all things food pantry related, I made one last stop at Dollar Tree. I felt bad because I was 'that person' - the one who holds up the line not only with a full cart, but also by making a tax-exempt purchase.
When I started to return my cart to the store, the man who was getting into his car two spaces over asked me if I was getting the food for a charity. I told him about the food pantry and our distribution of holiday food on Saturday. He put out his hand and said, "I don't have much, but I would like to help," and handed me a five dollar bill. We then talked about the hard times people are experiencing and that our pantry is there to help anyone in need. He said money is tight, and they might come to the pantry. I told him he was welcome to come any time.
You might ask why I didn't give him back the money if he indicated he was struggling. I wanted to honor his generosity and give him the opportunity to bless others. By giving, he in turn now knows of the pantry and how we can bless him tenfold.
This is uncommon generosity at its best. It's not about the dollar amount, but the generous heart who gave selflessly. William displayed Godly, agape love. What a beautiful way to end the day.”
I found that her experience so beautifully illustrated what the Apostle Paul was getting at in this portion of his letter to the church in Corinth. Paul was reminding them that all we have is really grace from God and should prompt us to be generous because of the generosity of God.
Over the past 8 months we continue to hear the phrase, “We’re in this together.” This phrase should be the motto of the church—because that’s how God designed it and us to be. In it together. Dependent on Him and dependent on one another. Generosity begetting generosity.
During the annual stewardship campaign, people often default to the stereotype of the church always asking for money. And that’s really too bad, because we rob ourselves of the experience that “William” had. Knowing that whatever we have to offer, God can use to bless others and us in the process. Who wants to pass on a blessing that God’s offering us?
And we really ARE in this together. That’s who the church is—us! We need one another for so many things. To learn from one another, to lift one another up by helping with physical needs, to share our spiritual gifts with others, including our finances—to build up the church, the body of Christ.
Let’s not miss out on being the church. We’re in this together.
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