Generosity 2019 Thoughts - Part Two

2Cor. 8:8    I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others.  9 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.

Though the Christian faith begins in Jerusalem, and though the earliest leaders of the fledgling community of believers were largely based out of Jerusalem, it was the Christian converts in pagan and Gentile areas which quickly overtook the place of thriving communities of faith.  Even during the apostle Paul’s ministry (during the first century CE) the churches in Asia Minor which Paul had started were taking up financial love-offerings for their poor and beleaguered Christian brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.  Today’s little snippet of Paul’s second letter to the church at Corinth is written in the context of Paul gathering funds to give to the poor Christians in Jerusalem.
He has been praising the Christians in Macedonia who, though under their own strains and troubles, have been remarkably generous.  And in writing to Corinth he reminds them that not only had they promised the previous year that they would be generous, but they “even desired to” make their offering.  I love this.  Paul acknowledges that we sometimes give without desiring to give, but in this case he reminds Corinth that they had an initial impulse toward generosity.  Now he is urging them to follow through.
I know of the situation to which Paul’s letter speaks.  I see a need.  I have an impulse to be generous, but then the many voices of my own parsimonious and self-preserving heart start speaking up.  “I can’t afford to do that,” they say.  Or, “If I give today, they will just ask again tomorrow,” they complain.  Or, “My little contribution will not really make a difference in addressing this thorny problem,” they opine.  Oh, to be like the Macedonians — to  let my generous gift flow without incessant preoccupation with these inner voices!
Paul, and our faith ask not that we ruin ourselves financially— only that we give according to what we have.

Lord, help me to not only desire to give, but to finish giving so that my impulse to be generous is matched by doing what love requires.  Amen.

Paul Lang