2 Corinthians 8:1-7
It may seem like abundant joy and extreme poverty should be mutually exclusive (v. 2). Extreme poverty causes things like starvation, illness, exploitation, terrorism, and wars. How could abundant joy keep company with that kind of wickedness? And furthermore, even when abundant joy is present in the midst of extreme poverty, how could that foster overflowing generosity (v. 2)? At first glance, it doesn’t make sense. But, then things of faith don’t have to make sense to be true.
When my wife was a college student, she periodically collected funds for the Ronald McDonald House. She and her friends stood on curbs and on intersection medians holding decorated buckets and jars. They implored people to give so that families with hospitalized children would be able to stay near their sick children. In Diane’s experience, the drivers who stopped or slowed down to donate were not driving late model BMW’s or Cadillacs. The ones who gave most generously seemed to drive old cars that were held together with duct tape and prayers. Sometimes when those drivers passed by on the other side of the road, they would make a sharp U-turn just to put their money in the bucket, soliciting squeals not only from their tires, but from the load of children in the back seat. Their gift was often accompanied by “God bless you” or “thank you for doing this” or “somebody helped me when I needed it and I want to do that for someone else.” During their own times of need, these drivers learned that joy doesn’t survive when we hoard our gifts. For a joyful and generous heart to grow, we must learn to share.
When have you experienced the most joy in your life? How has giving generously of yourself and your resources affected your capacity to experience joy?
God, show me a way to be more generous and more joyful today. Amen.