We’ve been looking at what it means to give like Jesus gave, how to become the sort of generous, others-centered people that Jesus was (is). In our last two posts, we’ve taken a look at two obstacles to, and seven characteristics of, what it means to give Jesus-style from 2 Corinthians 8.
But that’s not the whole story. It’s entirely possible to know the problem – and solution – but not have the power to do what we want to do… in this case, be generous and focused on others.
This is not just a theory. Take a moment and think about your last week. How many times did you do intentionally do something for someone else? Don’t let yourself off the hook here – be specific! If you’re anything like me, the number is pretty small. Most of us are not all that giving, so we really need help in this area.
But what kind of help? That’s what this post is about.
The first clue comes from verses 1-2: We want you to know, brothers,about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2 for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. Did you catch that? The Macedonians didn’t just become generous on their own – beneath their kindness was ‘the grace of God’. They were connected to Christ and he gave them the ability to do what they would never do on their own: be generous toward others at a time they were hurting themselves.
Still, you might be thinking, ‘OK, great, but what does that really mean? How does knowing Jesus make you generous?’
Verse 9 starts to show us how:
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.
There’s that word ‘grace’ again. It means favor or blessing you don’t deserve. Let’s open up the box and unpack that for a minute.
‘though he was rich…’ – the Apostle Paul is talking about what it was like for Jesus before he became a man. He was with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. He was the third person in a perfect community. He didn’t need anything or anyone.
‘yet… he became poor’ – this refers to Jesus’ incarnation, the shocking fact that God became a human being. The Creator became the creature. He was thirsty. He grew tired. And he was unfairly crucified by the people he came to rescue. (See Philippians 2:6-7).
‘so that you by his poverty might become rich’ – He did it for us. The only thing he didn’t have in heaven was us. We had become poor, broken, because we turned away from him. So he voluntarily gave it all up so that we could be with him again.
There’s really no way to even begin to do justice to this in a blog post. And in all honesty, it will take our entire lives to even begin understanding how much he loves us.
But we’ve got to keep fighting for that. The Macedonians had started to get it and that’s what made them incredibly generous. They saw that what Jesus had done for them – they saw that he became nothing so that they could receive everything.
Some of you may still be (I hope you are, actually) thinking, ‘Fine, Jesus is the answer, just like he always is. But how do I see what Jesus has done for me? I already know all this stuff, but it doesn’t seem to mean that much. I want it to, but it doesn’t.’
Glad you asked. That’s the subject of my next post, which will come out next Wednesday. (I promise – it’s already done).