2 Corinthians 8:1-4
One of the most precious Father’s Day gifts I ever received was a simple envelope that contained slips of paper with various chores written on them. I was to “cash in” the slips like currency, and my children would readily and happily perform the task. My children were young at the time, and money was not easy for them to come by. So, they gave out of what they had: time and effort.
It’s been my experience that gifts emerge from one of two sources: money or creativity. When you have money, your giving is easier because you have fewer restrictions on what you might give. A few clicks on the internet, and your gift is on its way. But when you have limited resources, you must be creative. It takes thought, effort, and time to give when you don’t have money. As with my children’s chore coupons, the most precious gifts are not measured in dollars but in minutes.
As Paul comes to the end of his second correspondence to the church at Corinth, he is encouraging them to be generous in giving to the church at Jerusalem. Their need is great, and he attempts to motivate the relatively wealthy Corinthians to give by letting them know how much the relatively poor Macedonian believers have given. He says their abundant joy and extreme poverty have overflowed (v. 2). This oxymoron contains the profound truth that their gift was more meaningful because it came from a place of hardship. Despite their severe ordeal of affliction, the Macedonian gift contained the essential ingredient of all good gifts—joy.
What hardship that you are currently facing might produce a joyful gift?
Holy God, teach me to give like the Macedonians, out of my ordeals and poverty, with abundant joy. Amen.