On a bone-chilling December day, she stood shivering and coatless on my front porch. I listened to her sales pitch, politely declined, and started to shut the door. Quickly, I inquired whether she had a coat. Having just moved here from a much warmer climate, she did not. A minute later, I returned with my heaviest coat. She slipped it on, and smiled with disbelief and gratitude. Closing the door, I selfishly thought, “That was my best coat. What a dumb thing to do!” Feeling conflicted about my choice, conviction seeped into my heart: best coat or not, meeting her need was what I felt led to do.
- What convictions influence you when it comes to meeting the needs of others?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 8:1-15 (ESV)
8:1 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. 3 For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, 4 begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— 5 and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us. 6 Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. 7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also.
8 I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 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. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”
(Today’s questions cover verses 8:9-15.)
- Previously, Paul had urged the Corinthians to “excel in this act of grace” (giving). Why (vs. 8)?
- Whose example did Paul cite as motivation (vs. 9)?
- Paul reminded the Corinthians of their desire to give to the Christians in Jerusalem. What was his encouragement, and why (vss. 10-11)?
- What did Paul say about our willingness to give, the amount we give, and the needs met by our giving (vss. 12-14)? Why are these important things to consider?
- Does your heart attitude toward giving convey gratitude to God for his provision for you? How are you honoring Christ by following his example in providing for the needs of others?
RESPOND TO GOD
If the Corinthians needed further motivation to give, Paul certainly gave it: remember Christ’s sacrifice for you. Whether out of abundance or poverty, we give to follow Christ’s example and to ease the burden of those in need. Although Paul persuaded the Corinthians to give monetarily, the call to give applies to all aspects of life—our resources, time, giftedness, and our very selves—because that is sacrificial giving. If we allow our gratitude for Christ’s sacrifice to lead us, then the actuality of our giving will supply the needs of others in whatever forms our giving takes.
- Prayerfully contemplate what this verse means to you: “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.”
- Express your gratitude to Christ by how you give to others today.