Thursday, April 25, 2019

2019.04.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Corinthians 8:8-15

Questions for Littles: What is the apostle intentionally not doing in 2 Corinthians 8:8? By urging them without command them, what is he testing? Who is the example for them (2 Corinthians 8:9)? What had He been? What did He become? Why? What opinion does he give in 2 Corinthians 8:10—to whose advantage will it be if they give? When had they planned to do this? What does he counsel them to do with their plans (2 Corinthians 8:11)? How will the completion of their willingness be tested, according to 2 Corinthians 8:12? What does the apostle not mean to happen to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 8:13)? What does he mean to happen to the Judean Christians now (2 Corinthians 8:14a)? And what does he mean to happen to the Corinthian Christians later (verse 14b)? Who is the One who makes sure that following His commands leads to full provision (2 Corinthians 8:15, cf. Exodus 16:11-31).
In this week’s Epistle reading, the apostle is urging a gift of charity in imitation of Christ, but he begins in a curious way, “I speak not by commandment.” Let us note that even though the law—given, as it was, to a church among whom very few were spiritually converted—commanded charity, the apostolic wisdom here is not to do so. In fact, the law was unable to produce charity, weakened as it was through the flesh—Boaz’s generosity in the things commanded actually made him a rare catch in his day!

The difference here is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Not just what He gave up, although this was an act, on His part, of grace toward us “though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.” But it is also a work of His grace for us and in us, “that you through His poverty might become rich.”

Rich in what? Denarii (Roman coins)? Remember: this is the grace of Christ, “blessing for those who deserve only curse and strength for those who have only weakness.” And we could well add, “goodness in those who in themselves have only sinfulness.” Jesus makes us rich not in being wealthy, but rather in being generous!

Here, then, is the first great reason that the apostle does not compel their charity by way of command, to show “the sincerity of your love” by comparing it to that of the Macedonians. When the one love turns out to look just like the other love, then the conclusion will be unmistakable, “These loves have the same source: the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ!”

But there is another reason in this passage as well: so that just like with the manna, which the Lord miraculously supplied in just the right amounts to each, so also as we depend upon Him both for a generous spirit in ourselves and for generous giving from others, God Himself can be displayed as the One who has provided it all: He makes us depend more and more upon Him, and gives us the privilege of participating in others’ also finding Him faithful.

May the Lord grant unto us to see our need or others’ need as an opportunity for the display of Christ’s grace in those who are generous and God’s generous provision to all!
What believer do you know who is needy? What might Christ do for each of you?
Suggested songs: ARP112 “O Praise the Lord” or TPH538 “Take My Life, and Let It Be”

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