Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 1 June 21:
2 Corinthians 8:1 – “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia….”
The evidence of the miraculous power of God was being revealed mightily in Macedonia in the lives of the believers there. How? “In a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Corinthians 8:2-5) Compelled by the grace of God in their lives, the Macedonians, despite their own poverty and affliction, eagerly, insistently, and joyfully gave beyond their means, beyond what anyone would consider reasonable – they gave radically. How often do you see that kind of giving? How often do you give that way?
It is one thing to give, and it is another thing to give beyond your means with great joy in your heart. What possibly could have inspired the Macedonians to give this way? Paul tells us: “They gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Corinthians 8:5) The Macedonians gave beyond their perceived capacity because they had already given themselves completely to the Lord – “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20) They earnestly desired to love others as Christ loved them and to give as He gave, and they could give confidently resting on the riches of Christ and the abundance of His perfect provision.
- Matthew 25:35-40 — For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
- Luke 6:38 — Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.
- Philippians 4:19 — And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
- Romans 8:32 — He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?
- Matthew 6:25-33 — “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children.” (Ephesians 5:1) Loving children desire to be like their loving parents. We should desire to give like Jesus gave – “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (2 Corinthians 8:9) Jesus became poor to make us rich. Have you ever known anyone who became poor because they gave so much to those in need? If so, I’m confident you would not describe that person as miserable. What does your level of giving say about the impact of God’s grace in your life and about how much you truly love God and others?
- 2 Corinthians 9:7 — Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 1 June 21: Pray that God will overwhelm you with His grace and inspire in you a heart that truly desires to give abundantly as an expression of your love for God and for others. Pray that God will give you the heart of a cheerful giver.