Today's Lectionary Text
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
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.
I 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,
“The one who had much did not have too much,
Only 12 more shopping days until Christmas. I usually find myself feeling shopper burnout by mid-December. On Black Friday, I am excited by the possibilities of the gifts I can give to my family and their subsequent smiles. By the last week or two before Christmas, I am tired. I’m ready to give everybody a gift certificate enclosed in a 50-cent greeting card.
Paul warns that as Christians, we can experience burnout, too. When we first accept the grace and forgiveness given through Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, we are overjoyed. We can hardly contain ourselves. We want to share the good news. We feel honored to give of our time and of our resources. But as time drags on, we can lose our enthusiasm. We forget our vow to uphold the body of Christ on earth with our prayers, our presence, our gifts, our service and our witness.
Paul’s advice is still good today. “10 Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. 11 Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. 12 Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have.” (2 Corinthians 8:10-12 New Living Translation)
Stay enthusiastic! Give eagerly of your prayers, service, witness and gifts to the glory of God.
-Dorothy Smith, FL
UMC Humboldt-Table Rock, NE
Missouri River District
Prayer for Reflection
Bountiful God, thank you for the blessings you have heaped upon us. Help us to give back to your children and to your church, proportionately and joyfully. Amen
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