Recently a Scripture passage stopped me in my tracks. I reread it several times and continued to ponder it for a few days. The passage was from one of Paul’s letters to the church in Corinth.
I’ve bolded the line that caused me to pause and reread it.
“During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will” (2 Corinthians 8:2-5, CSB).
The juxtaposing ideas halted me. I read “abundant joy” and “extreme poverty” referring to the same people. Those aren’t phrases I would initially think of together. It’s apparent the Christians in Macedonia lived as James instructs:
“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing” (James 1:2-4, NLT).
As we review the first passage, we can extract the attitudes and actions observed.
• Be joyful
• Give despite trials and hardship
• Give generously
• Give of your own free will
• View sharing as a privilege
• Prioritize the Lord first, then the saints
I see outrageous returns when Paul talks about the effects of their generosity. “Now the one who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will also provide and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all generosity, which produces thanksgiving to God through us. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (2 Corinthians 9:10-12, CSB).
The bulleted list above is an investment of time, energy, and resources. While the list below indicates the benefits accrued by that investment of generosity.
• God provides for needs
• Realize an increased harvest of good
• Be enriched
• Ministry needs are met
• Increased praise and thanksgiving to God
Here are some words of wisdom from others regarding generosity.
“You give but little when you give of your possessions. It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.” — Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
“The most truly generous persons are those who give silently without hope of praise or reward.” — Carol Ryrie Brink, Caddie Woodlawn
“For it is in giving that we receive.” — Saint Francis of Assisi
“A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed” (Proverbs 11:25, NIV).
Dear Reader, is your generosity reflective of the Macedonian Christians? Do you need to have an accountant meeting with the LORD?
Dear Father God, You are good and meet the needs of Your children. You make it possible to be joyful in all circumstances. Holy Spirit, help me overflow with generosity in every area of life even in the midst of trials. Make me remember that everything I have is from You. Guide me in stewarding Your gifts well. Make me a conduit to bless others, generating a harvest that results in praising Your name. Amen.
I am a follower of Jesus Christ, grandmother, great-grandmother, foster care parent, and trauma survivor. I enjoy sipping tea, writing devotionals, prayers, short stories, and unburdening my heart to the Lord. Check the About page if you want to read more of my story.
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