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, and the one who had little did not have too little.”
Luther Seminary’s “Working Preacher” is one of my favorite websites. Dr. Jane Lancaster Patterson, Associate Professor of New Testament and Director of Community Care at the Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas writes in “Working Preacher” this week,
In the economy of God, the pattern of self-offering results in the multiplication of grace for everyone involved. Such a faithful calculation is counter-cultural…Paul’s insistence that the flow of God’s grace can be observed in the movement of money from one community to another offers a radical challenge to conventional views of “charity.” For Paul, money is a powerful and relatively simple way for the reconciling power of God to reach effectively into human lives, drawing givers and receivers alike into right relationship with God and with one another.
Through our giving we experience the grace of God, just as those who receive our gift. To Paul our giving and our receiving connect us to one another so that, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” The movement of grace has the power to change our insatiable hunger for the things of this world into a desire to have love for our neighbor. In other words, our giving frees us to love one another, and that is wonderful news!
In Christ’s love, Pastor Tim