November 22, 2005

Rich Generosity

2 Corinthians 8:1-7

Their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 2 Corinthians 8:2


In this section of his letter to the Corinthians the apostle Paul is writing about the Christians of Macedonia. Macedonians lived in northern Greece. These Christians were concerned about their fellow Christians back in Jerusalem who were experiencing famine and poverty. Because Jerusalem was having a hard time, Paul was collecting gifts for the people there while traveling through various churches. But not all Christians were willing to be very generous. So Paul mentioned the Macedonians as model givers in order to inspire others to give generously. The Macedonians were generous despite having to deal with severe trials and extreme poverty themselves. Their generosity didn't speak about their wealth; it spoke about their inner spirit. As Paul put it, they were richly generous. That means they had a very healthy spirit! Later in this letter Paul tells the Corinthians that each of them must make their own decisions about their generosity, or lack of it. It must be a voluntary decision, with each person trusting God as provider and remembering that "God loves a cheerful giver" (see 2 Corinthians 9:7-8). Generosity isn't so much a matter of our prosperity or habits as it is of our inner life--our heart!

Dear Lord, I simply ask today that you will create within me a heart that is as generous as yours has been with me. Help me show your love by giving generously. In Jesus, Amen.

About the author — Howard Vanderwell

Rev. Howard Vanderwell was involved in pastoral ministry in the Christian Reformed Church for 40 years, serving as a pastor in Iowa, Illinois, and Michigan. Upon retirement in 2002, he began his work at Calvin Seminary, where he helped train the ministers of the next generation. Howard and his wife, Eleanor, were married for 57 years and had three married sons and ten grandchildren.

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