2 Corinthians 8:1-15 (NRSV)
We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has
been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of
affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a
wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave
according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for
the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saints — and this, not merely
as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God,
to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so
he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. 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.
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. 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 -- now finish doing it, so that your
eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the
eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has — not
according to what one does not have. 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
your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your
need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written,
who had much did not have too much,
and the one who had little did not have
During this CHRISTmas season, many of us are tempted to make our christmas lists. We write down all of the things that we want, or we encourage our children to do the same.
On the one hand, CHRISTmas is about giving. It is about God unselfishly giving us the very best gift God had--His one and only son--as a Love offering for our atonement.
So, when we give during the CHRISTmas season, we are following the example of God and that is a good thing!
But, as we write our lists and check them twice, let us not forget to give to the one who gave so unselfishly to us. What will we "get" God this season?
What does God want? Well, today's devotion reminds us that what God wants is for us to be able to say, "The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little."
What can we do to make God's wish come true? Will you give water to a child dying of thirst (www.charitywater.org)? Will you give food and an education to a child without the same (www.worldvision.com)? Will you offer a loan to a widow and her children so that they can start a business, change their lives, and bless their community (www.kiva.org)? Will you provide a chick or pig to a family so they can become self sustaining (www.heifer.org)? Will you offer an orphan a home (www.adoptuskids.org)?
How will you fulfill God's CHRISTmas list? Will you love somebody unloveable, forgive an unforgiveable offense, or right a wrong?
There are as many ways to bless God on CHRISTmas as there are human beings. What is important is that each of us give a gift from the heart that will bless our King and His Kingdom of Love.
And let us not give begrudgingly, my friends, but with gladness, generousity, and eagerness! After all, toys, clothes, and music, wear, go out of style, get loss, or become too small, but the gift of LOVE shared by providing enough food, water, clothes, shelter, health care, education, security, love, hope, joy, forgiveness, and/or peace to a child of God, lasts forever.
We are so blessed! And as the old ladies in the church I grew up in used to say, "Child! You are blessed to be a blessing...You can't beat God giving, no matter how hard you try!"
Be encouraged, my friends! You can give a meaningful gift this CHRISTmas that will touch the very heart of our King! Be exceedingly glad!
Lord, please help me to generously and gladly use the resources you have entrusted into my care to bless someone with less than me. Amen...