11th Week in Ordinary Time
2 Corinthians 8:1-9
Psalm 146:2, 5-9
Their profound poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity. (2 Corinthians 8:2)
If someone is experiencing poverty, wouldn’t you expect him to rein in his spending and conserve his resources? If he is hurt or suffering, wouldn’t you expect him to rest, nurse his wounds, and rebuild his strength? Instead, Paul tells us that the faith and joy of the Macedonian Christians overflowed in generosity—they even begged for the privilege of helping!
In his letter, Paul gives a key for understanding such unstinting generosity. “They gave themselves first to the Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:5). You can just imagine them praying: I’m yours, Lord. All that I am and everything I have comes from you and belongs to you. How do you want me to use the resources that you have entrusted to me?
Because they prayed with this kind of openness, they didn’t object when God asked them to give generously to the church in Jerusalem during a time of famine. This involved great trust on their part. They had to believe that God would take care of their needs if they gave priority to the needs of other members of the body of Christ.
How did the Macedonians find the grace to respond in this way? Again, Paul gives us an answer: “You know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9). It wasn’t just Jesus’ example that prompted them to be generous. It was his life within them as well.
How generous are you when you come face-to-face with the needs of another person? Perhaps you count up your resources and see if you can spare a little after you’ve taken care of your own priorities. That’s a good start. But maybe the Spirit is nudging you to make it more personal and more self-sacrificial. Come before the Lord, and ask him to help you see him in the faces of his needy children. Bring the resources he has given you, and try to make them all available for his use.
“Father, I can never outdo you in generosity. Open my eyes and my heart to the needs of all your children.”~WAU