1 We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia: 2 During a severe trial brought about by affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 3 I can testify that, according to their ability and even beyond their ability, of their own accord, 4 they begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints, 5 and not just as we had hoped. Instead, they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us by God’s will. 6 So we urged Titus that just as he had begun, so he should also complete among you this act of grace. 7 Now as you excel in everything—in faith, speech, knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love for us—excel also in this act of grace. 8 I am not saying this as a command. Rather, by means of the diligence of others, I am testing the genuineness of your love. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich.
2 Corinthians 8:1-9
In early March of this year, a tornado touched down in East Nashville near the Lockeland Springs campus. A couple days later, a few of us from my LIFE Group decided to check in with The Church at Lockeland Springs, which was organizing groups to survey and determine the immediate needs of the affected area. The small group I was assigned to consisted of a diverse group of local residents and people from outside the East Nashville neighborhood. Most of us weren’t personally affected by the damage, but all of us were drawn to the area to see how we could help.
In today’s passage, Paul encourages the Corinthians to help others by following the example of the Macedonian churches. These churches struggled with their own extreme poverty and easily could have ignored the needs of the impoverished believers in Jerusalem. Instead, they begged earnestly “for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints.” The Macedonian churches gave generously, even beyond their ability, because they saw a need and wanted to help. And since Paul knew that the Corinthians excelled in everything they did, he challenged them to do likewise. He did not command them to help their Jewish brothers and sisters, but rather encouraged them to do what those who were much less fortunate had done.
All day long while we were in East Nashville, people drove up and down the streets passing out water, food, trash bags, etc. in this area of devastation. I saw people from different backgrounds coming together, giving their time and resources to help the neighborhood start healing.
And while there was an over-abundance of supplies the first week, I realized that in another week or so the attention on this area would begin to fade. In reality, the needs of others are constantly around us. We can show the love of God to those in need by sharing the resources and talents God has gifted us with. Will it take a catastrophe to trigger your generosity, or will this become a continual way you serve others in the name of Christ?
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Can you recall a time when you were in need and someone “out of the blue” helped you overcome your difficulties? What a blessing you can be to someone else by doing the same and “paying it forward.”
- Is there a project or need you know of where your LIFE Group members can partner together to make the situation more manageable?
Take a walk as a family through your neighborhood or town. Knowing your family’s skill set or limitations, find a family that you can bless by serving them. Maybe you have an older couple who have a hard time getting outside and you can help rake their leaves, maybe someone has trees who have fallen down and can be cut up. Or, there might even be a local business that could use so freshening up with their flowers or mulch! As you work, talk with your family about how God has given us a world of people who might be less fortunate than us or even just in a place of deep despair, that we can touch with the gospel by loving acts of kindness.
Several of our global partners minister directly by providing clean water, in South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa. Pray that people who drink the clean water will thirst spiritually, and our partners will have opportunity to introduce them to Jesus, who offers Living Water.