Freely you have received, freely give. — Jesus, Matthew 10:8
Back in Paul’s day, the Macedonians were dirt poor. In a devastated drought-stricken land, many of them would have been sleeping in the gutters, except that they didn’t have any gutters. Yeah, it was the kind of “poor” that many of us rarely, if ever, see—let alone experience. Those Macedonians have something to teach us today about the family of God:
And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. (2 Corinthians 8:1-4)
Sharing resources is part of what it means to be a family. It’s a huge blessing, and not just for those who freely receive, but also for those who freely give. What a strange mixture of words show up in this passage! “Very severe trial… Overflowing joy… Extreme poverty… Rich generosity…” As Paul helps define our identity as brothers and sisters, isn’t it possible that he’s teaching us an even deeper lesson about what it means to be truly free in Christ? Consider these words from J. G. Whittier:
Nothing before, nothing behind:
The steps of faith
Fall on this seeming void, and find
The Rock beneath.
Jehovah Jira, Heavenly Father, Even Your Old Testament name declares that You are “God my Provider.” You are the Father, and I am Your child. As You have freely given to me, I ask that You would freely give through me. Strengthen my faith that I might discover You as “The Rock beneath” so that I can be free indeed.
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