6/9/22 Thursday

Journal 2 Cor 8 (all references are from the ESV unless noted otherwise; changes in punctuation are mine)

Scripture: “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia.  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.

For they gave according to their means (as I can testify) and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints—

For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has—not according to what he does not have.  For I do not mean that others should be eased, and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness your abundance at the present time should supply their need so that their abundance may supply your need, that there should be fairness.” 2 Cor 8:1-4 and 12-14

Observation: It should be clear that Christian worship is not only spiritual, but practical.

Analysis: I have heard it many times: If you want to see how spiritual a guy is, show the check book.

I am provoked by this chapter—and not in a “make me feel good” way.  Paul is bragging, yes, bragging about those believers in Macedonia.  Let me set aside the “abundance of joy” statement in favor of focusing on this: “…their extreme poverty overflowed into a wealth of generosity…”

First thing I thought of is that I cannot be counted in the same statement as the Macedonia Churches (plural).  Why?  Because of the mismanagement of personal finances. I am very familiar with the debt noose around my neck and the debt chains on my legs.

Maybe there are a bunch of other believers that are in the same way.  However, giving is a mark of a growing believer (denying myself to serve others). So, what do I do?  I should not succumb to despair, dig myself a hole, jump in, and pull the dirt back over my head (same idea as sitting in sackcloth and throwing ashes over my head).

Therefore, those who want to be spiritual, make and execute a plan:

  1. Do not pray to win the Lottery.
  2. Start small (that your faith will support) and be diligent in improving your personal finances.  Try a budget of any kind, get help, look for a model online.  Ask the leadership team for suggestions.
  3. Tithe. If your faith and your finances make that hard, then give as generously as you have faith for.  Make this a goal…and a point of shedding those debt chains.
  4. Consider giving to all that ask of you. Today’s society has homeless and beggars everywhere.  Yes, many are destitute because of their self-destructive lifestyle. Try not to stand in judgment but give in the Name of Jesus. Keep a handful of dollars in the car just for that opportunity.  Work out ahead of time what you can quickly say (don’t block the road).

Look how Paul writes about understanding the various situations: “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has—not according to what he does not have…”  In God’s eyes, giving does not have a “good, better, best” grading.  It is about what we can do in faith, and then keep growing…

It is like that no matter what aspect of our Spiritual Walk is addressed; all of our growth in Christ begins with a single step…

Prayer:  Lord God, you know my history and how faithless I am with personal finances.  It is only by your Mercy that we have managed to date.  What it has done is allowed me to peer back through history and see all the times You have been faithful and continue to be faithful (even in my unfaithfulness).  Reviewing my personal history also allows me to have faith that You will continue to be faithful…not in arrogance, but with my head bowed having a sure knowledge I don’t deserve your Mercy.

Funny how the Gospel touches every part of my life…


Ricky Two Shoes