Dispatch One Hundred Eighty-Five

Posted: December 17, 2015 in Fortieth Bundle
Tags: , , , ,

2 CORINTHIANS 8:7-15

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— 11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. 13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written,

“The one who had much did not have too much,
    and the one who had little did not have too little.”

Our sense of justice when we are very young is centered in our notions of fairness. To be “fair,” all of us around the table needed to get an equal-sized piece of the pie. To be “fair,” everyone needed to get what they deserved (which sometimes worked against us personally). Even after we’ve grown up this early sense of justice continues with us, to shape and condition our adult views of work, wealth, and social equality.

To guess what must have been going on behind the scene there in Corinth, we might suspect that some church members were complaining over the unfairness of having to share their hard-earned wealth with the distant and faceless poor across the sea in Jerusalem. It just didn’t seem right that they should be obligated with charity for people they didn’t even know, and who probably didn’t deserve it anyway.

But Paul held their opinions and excuses against the greatest paradigm of charity the world had ever witnessed – the self-emptying generosity of God revealed in Jesus Christ, who gave everything for the sake of our salvation. What are your meager possessions when compared with the redemptive self-sacrifice made by Jesus on your behalf? What right do you have to withhold your wealth and love from the anonymous poor, when God so loves all of us – maybe especially the poor – with a charity so undeserved that even you fall short of its measure? Grow up!

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