June 2, 2011 Devotion Sharing

Submitted by Daniel Kim, Gracepoint San Diego

2 Corinthians 8:1-15

What truths about life do the paradoxical words describing the Macedonian churches in vss. 1-3 show?

The Macedonian churches experienced overflowing joy through severe trial and rich generosity through extreme poverty.  This seems so counter-intuitive, so radical.  But they only seem so radical because we have so fully bought into the lies of this world, which says you can experience overflowing joy in comfort and can only be generous when you have plenty of wealth left over.  This lie has been so thoroughly accepted that it gets propagated through people who sincerely and genuinely care for us.  Parents tell their children to take care of themselves first, to earn a comfortable life – so that they can experience joy and contentment.  Relatives tell their beloved nephews to earn a lot of money, so that they can then be generous.  They are sincere when they say such things – for they have themselves fully bought into the lie.  One needs not to be intentionally lying in order to propagate a lie.

But the truth that is revealed in these verses is that joy and generosity are not dependent on wealth or leisure or comfort.  The fact is that even in the midst of trial and poverty, there can be overflowing joy and rich generosity.

How would I know this?  First, the word of God confronts the lie of materialism.  The DT texts throughout the past several weeks have been so clear on exposing this lie of the world.  Secondly, I can identify the lie by observing people who are indeed overflowing with joy and rich in generosity.  Being in a community where I see a lot of generosity and joy going around, this is not a difficult thing to do.  I can ask: who are the generous people who are looking out for needs of others?  Who are the ones who give and share joyfully?  And I can plainly see that those are not the same people who are comfortable and rich.  Sometimes it’s the comfortable and the rich who are the most tight-fisted about their money and have the least amount of joy in giving.  The word of God is true.  Joy and generosity doesn’t depend on comfort or riches.  As the Macedonian churches exemplify, I can and often have experienced joy and generosity quite independent of any kind of material riches.  Through the word and community, I can confront the lies of this world and confront the lies that I have bought into in my own heart.  Furthermore, I can have compassion on those who have bought into the lies – because they are barking up the wrong tree if they are hoping that they will gain joy and relational richness through materialism.

Submitted by Cynthia Peng, Gracepoint Berkeley

2 Corinthians 8:13-15
In what way have I experienced vv. 14-15 through the community of faith? I have definitely experienced vv. 14-15 through the community of faith and very concretely this past year.  The church has come together and my peers and co-ministers have graciously been so generous to Eugene and I while he was unemployed. Definitely their plenty had supplied what we needed.  Our peers gave us money in the thousands because of very special and particular medical needs that we had.  And then our fellow staff chipped in together and gave us money every month to help us to pay our mortgage, daily expenses, etc. Without the generosity of the community of faith, we would’ve been in debt so high and just wouldn’t have been able to make ends meet.  The community of faith definitely didn’t have to do this for us, it’s not like people had all this extra money lying around, they could have used it for many other things, and yet they chose to help us.  They could have just lent it to us with a promise from us that we’ll pay them back when we have the means.  But they didn’t do that, they graciously and generously and freely just gave us the money, no strings attached.   The best analogy that I can come up with is that of a family, where family members would help one another in this way.  But, even then, in our modern society, that has become more and more of a rare thing.  I remember when Eugene worked for estate planning law, he would have cases after cases of family members at war with one another because of things like inheritance and money.  So definitely even in the family setting, this kind of generosity and freedom with money is rare, how much more in a community of faith.  It makes me very thankful to be in a community of faith like this where these verses are lived out and where I have experienced vv.13-14 come alive like never before.
Meditate on the implications for Christian sharing arising from the words “that there might be equality.”

As I think about the words “that there might be equality”, I see the implications on this in my life.  This is what others did for me, when they had plenty, they supplied what we needed.  This is very timely as Eugene recently got a job offer and he will be starting full-time work this coming Monday.  Very soon, it’ll be our turn to have the plenty and so this passage tells me that it is our turn to supply what others need so “that there might be equality”.  Having been the recipient of so many people’s generosity, I can’t wait until it’s our turn to give back.

 

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