“Hear this, all peoples; give ear, all inhabitants of the world, both low and high, rich and poor together.” Psalm 49:1-2
Yesterday afternoon I received a call from the wife of the missionary family who were out at our farm on Sunday. She said that they would felt God was calling them to our place and asked if they could move in tomorrow - that meaning today. My head has been swirling since that call ended knowing all the things I need to clean up in that space for them along with all of the other things that come with my ordinary days as well as the extra work I have had lately with school starting and my campaign preparations that have been ever increasing. Additionally, I have had thoughts going through my head still about how poorly the situation worked out when we shared our apartment space last time and also in considering the fact that we may have been blessed with this space, but there is no money in our budget to pay for the extra utilities which will be required in housing another family on our farm.
I guess for all those reasons above, as I came upon 2 Corinthians 8 this morning I felt compelled to go through the text more thoroughly in order to gain a bit more godly comfort during this day of transition. I knew for certain that God would not leave me wanting in being diligent in pursing His truth as it related to the circumstances ahead of us, and I was not disappointed. Read on and see what I mean. (Highlighted text is taken from 2 Corinthians 8: 1-15)
“Moreover, brethren, we make known to you the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia: that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded in the riches of their liberality.”
God bestows grace on believers who give. His grace goes to those who do not just give when they have extra or it is easy, but rather to those who give during times when they are lacking and have nothing to give but yet still give with generosity and tolerance towards the conditions of others. From that sort of giving God promises an overflowing amount of joy to the giver.
“For I bear witness that according to their ability, yes, and beyond their ability, they were freely willing, imploring us with much urgency that we would receive the gift and the fellowship of the ministering to the saints.”
Being willing to give beyond your own ability – that is being willing to give as God asks and then trusting in how He will provide to maintain the giving He has requested of you, is how we are to minister to the needs of believers around us. The urgency of the call to give should be greater then the fear of there not being anything to give as we have been asked.
“And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God. So we urged Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also complete this grace in you as well. But as you abound in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all diligence, and in your love for us—see that you abound in this grace also.”
The manner in which we give and show through our giving the witness of our faith, we set forth an example of how to dispense the love of God. In doing so God does not wish to drain us of our provisions, but rather He desires to bring along side us those who will partner in our ministry of giving and sharing for His kingdom.
“I speak not by commandment, but I am testing the sincerity of your love by the diligence of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
God asks us to give generously as a test of our faith. He wants us to show Him that we are willing to become poor for Him even though we have been given many riches in this world. Our giving is also meant to help us gain a better understanding of the example Jesus set before us in giving up His throne in heaven to come to earth and save our needy souls.
“And in this I give advice: It is to your advantage not only to be doing what you began and were desiring to do a year ago; but now you also must complete the doing of it; that as there was a readiness to desire it, so there also may be a completion out of what you have. For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have.”
After God makes ready our mind for giving and builds within our hearts the desire to give, then He calls us to step out in trust to complete the giving we feel urged to act upon but do not yet see where the provisions for our giving will come from.
“For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, 'He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack.'”
The purpose God has in our giving is not that He wants us to be more shackled by the strains of giving and the ones receiving to be let off the hook in their responsibilities in this life. Rather, God has prepared ahead of time that both parties have something to give one another although at the onset the relationship looks only like it is a one-way stream of giving. The purpose God has for those who are called to give and for those who are called to receive are the same – a mutual growth in His ability to provide and in His faithfulness to those who are willing to step out into places beyond where human sensibilities are found.
I hope you were as encouraged as I was by theses verses today and the thoughts the Lord has given me as I read them and asked for His wisdom in discerning them. I have a feeling I may be looking back on these truths a lot over the next few weeks, months, or however long our new tenants have been called to stay with us. The Lord never calls us to do things that are easy, that is for sure. But, in doing His will it eases our mind in ways that this world cannot offer through its simplistic view of building up treasure and finding fulfillment through what it can purchase us. Our heavenly investments are much larger than we could ever comprehend but thankfully the dividends and matching funds the Lord provides us make our deposits amount to more than we could ever imagine possible through our meager ability to give.