Grace And Giving
A daily devotion for September 19th
1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. 6So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
8I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
10And here is my advice about what is best for you in this matter: Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. 11Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. 12For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.
13Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little."
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
Christ's humbling is what Paul holds up as an example of what it means to give. There was a time when Jesus was rich. He was not rich on earth, though He sometimes stayed with rich people. He had friends and neighbors who were rich; some who followed Him were rich, but He Himself had nothing at all. But once He was rich, according to this verse. When was that? Do you remember in the Upper Room Discourse, in the prayer of Jesus recorded in John 17, He says to the Father,
And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began (John 17:5)?
I do not know if Paul was aware of this prayer or not, but that is a very wonderfully insightful verse indicating that Jesus recalled a time when He was rich, when everything in the universe belonged to Him. All the hosts of heaven bowed down in continuous worship of His name, and hundreds of thousands were ready to run at His bidding. He owned it all, everything was His, but He gave it up voluntarily. He deliberately impoverished himself. As Paul put it in Philippians,
He humbled himself (Philippians 2:8), and He became a man, just a poor man.
Remember how He constantly borrowed everything? He had nothing of His own. He borrowed food, clothing, a coin to give an illustration, a donkey to enter into the city of Jerusalem, and He finally had to borrow a tomb in which to be laid. There was one occasion when it says the disciples all went to their own homes, but He went to the Mount of Olives. He had no home to go to, no place to lay His head.
Why did He do this? Why did He become poor? Paul's reminder is, in order that we might be rich. Have you thought about how rich the Lord has made you? Just the other day, in the midst of all the tumult that we see reported in the international scene, I was thinking what a terrible thing it would be to have to live today without the Lord. Would you like to do that, now that you have known Him? Would you like to give up all the joy, all the peace, all the sense of forgiveness, all the lifting of the load of guilt? Would you give up the sense of His presence, of a power source available to you for whatever you need, of a continual supply of joy and gladness and restoration, of the continual enrichment of your life?
How rich Jesus has made us! He became poor in order that we might be rich. When you think about that, how wrong it seems to withhold our gifts from those who are in need around us. How can we clutch our affluence to ourselves when our brothers and sisters are in need?
Thank You, Lord, for the example of Jesus, who became poor that I might become rich. May I learn to extend that same grace to those around me who are in need.
Life Application: Jesus is our priceless Treasure. Are we learning to worship Him with all that we are and own? What may we be withholding from Him this day?
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