Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 5 2013 - 2 Corinthians 8:1-15 – Of poverty and riches

Often it is those who have little who seem most generous in sharing what they do have with others. Jesus commended the widow who put her two mites into the temple treasury; she had given far more than others since, out of her poverty, she had given all she had while the rich had given what they would not miss. Paul speaks highly of the Macedonian Christians; though they were very poor they pleaded with Paul to be allowed to make a contribution to the collection he was making for famine stricken Christians in Judea. They saw it as an expression of their devotion to the Lord.

Paul recounts this remarkable example of giving as he asks the Christians at Corinth to contribute to the collection. But there is an even more wonderful example that Paul would have them remember. Paul writes, “You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). Jesus freely gave up the riches of glory to be born into comparative poverty. He was ready to suffer the loss of all things for us – dignity, reputation and even his life. He did all of this for us that we might share in the riches of his glory. This act of sheer love and sheer grace should empower us in acts of love and of grace, making us as eager as the Macedonians to give to others in need.

Paul reminds the Corinthians that what God looks for from us is nothing like his act of grace in giving us his Son. God does not expect us to make ourselves poor so that others may be rich but rather that we might share with others in need so that there might be an ‘equality’ among members of his family. Paul reminds the Corinthians of how God provided manna for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. There was enough for all; no one suffered want and no one had too much. So also now God has provided enough to meet the needs of all. The tragedy and scandal of our contemporary world is that many live and die in desperate need while so many in the West suffer the diseases of affluence and excess – diseases of body and of soul. The grace of Christ should be reflected in remarkable acts of grace in Christians, seeking to ensure that the riches of God’s good gifts might be shared more equitably – that our plenty might meet their need.

Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, as it is written: "He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little." (2 Corinthians 8:13-15)

How are these words going to shape our lives?

Living God, you are a God of grace – a God of giving. You gave us your Son. He gave himself up to the cross for us. You have given us an abundance of good things both materially and spiritually. We give you thanks for the riches of your grace and goodness. You have also given us your Spirit. Work in our hearts to make us more like your Son. May the love with which you have loved us be reflected in our love for others. May we be eager to excel in the grace of giving. May our riches supply the needs of others that together we may rejoice in your abundant goodness.

Peter Misselbrook