Today’s reading is 2 Cor 8
Today we get to look at a pretty straight forward but very rich text. I am a person who loves to give gifts. I find so much joy in seeing someone light up with excitement when I have found the perfect trinket for that person. I love purchasing gifts that make people laugh because of a mutual experience we have shared and the gift is a reminder of that event. I even enjoy gifting people with help (mostly food, flowers or some manual labor) or a gift of time listening to their worries, sadnesses or problems. Even as a natural born gifter, I am challenged by Paul’s words in this chapter of Corinthians to evaluate my willingness and generosity around giving.
I want to look at a list of the directions Paul gives us in this chapter.
1-vs 3, Give not only what you can afford, but far more.
2-vs 3, Give of your own free will.
3-vs 4, Ask over and over for the privilege of sharing with others.
4-vs 5, Do more than others hope for.
5-vs 7, Excel in the gracious act of giving.
6-vs 8,Our genuine love for others is shown by our level of generosity.
7-vs 9, Jesus is the ultimate example of generosity because He left the riches of heaven, but for our sakes became poor, so that His poverty could make us rich.
8-vs 10-11, Finish the gift that you start giving. Complete your commitments.
9-vs 11, Give in proportion to what you have.
10-vs 12, Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly.
11-vs 13, Our giving shouldn’t make life easy for others and hard for ourselves.
12-vs 16-24, If you are in the position of handling or managing other people’s gifts, make sure that you bring at least one other person along to be sure there is no chance for mismanagement. Make sure that the people whose gifts you manage have complete faith in your system of checks and balances, so the gifters have assurance that their full gift is ending up where they expect it to be.
I love this list! It challenges me to think differently when I am giving of myself. Read through the list again and see which ones affect your heart. Take a few seconds to sit with each one and check yourself for compliance. Today, the one that hit me is, “Do more than others hope for”. I like it because it is simple and with a little thought or a small gesture it would be easy for me to accomplish this one. How much sweeter would my life be if every day I looked for a way to do more for one person than they hope for? (If I choose someone who expects nothing of me, this gets really simple!) It can be as small as a smile or a greeting to anyone you come into contact with. If I choose someone in my home, how much more appreciated or loved will my family feel if they get some help they were not expecting? If I can add number 10 to number 4 and do whatever I am doing for others eagerly, what kind of an impact can it make in others lives? My ultimate goal is to be like Christ. Willing to leave the riches of heaven to come to earth so our lives could be purchased and then we get to experience the riches of heaven. If this is my standard, my goal…doesn’t giving a little more of my time, energy, and resources seem almost trivial?
I’ll end with one quick last thought. As I read a commentary on this passage in preparation for writing today one sentence kind of stabbed me in the heart. It said,” Best wishes, good intentions, desire and eager willingness are no substitute for good deeds”. So often I hear of a situation or know about a need or struggle of a friend, and can’t find time in my “busy” schedule to do the thing that God is asking me to do for that person. My desire to help someone does NOTHING for their need. I actually have to DO something!