Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Generous Love

Would you consider yourself a loving person? Do you think others view you as loving? The Apostle Paul says that if we are followers of Christ we will follow His pattern of becoming poor for the sake of others. This state of intentional poverty is to be a display of love. Let's think about what it means.

Sometimes our poverty is expressed in humility as we are right in a situation and are called to respond to others in gentleness and kindness rather than pride and self-righteousness. We can show this loving poverty by serving others. Most often it is messy when we serve someone. Whether they are an elderly person needing physical assistance, an addict going through the pain of walking away from a substance or a person suffering the agony of divorce. Caring for people drives us to our knees and should give us a real sense of our spiritual poverty. And by that I mean our poverty is our great need for Christ, His strength and His help. In reality, we have nothing without Him.

There are times, though, when this poverty is financial. These are the times that Christians are to sacrifice to give money to help the poor, other Christians or those affected by disaster. Read this verse from 2 Corinthians 8:8-15 to hear Paul’s thoughts,

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. 9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. 13 For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness 14 your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness. 15 As it is written, “Whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.”

An interesting phrase in those verses is found in verse 14. Paul says that, “your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.” In the economy of the Kingdom of God, we are always looking to help one another. It is not a welfare state where the rich stay rich forever and the poor stay poor forever. As we live within the Kingdom of God here on Earth we know that there will be an ebb and flow of times of abundance and times of need. Paul says that we should give when we are in a season of abundance and trust that we will receive in our time of need. The fairness is not that we all make the same income at all times. The fairness is that we are willing to share with those who are in need. We know that Paul calls Christians to work hard, so there is no precedent for anyone to be a persistent mooch. Yet, there are genuine times when people are and will be in need. Christians show their love by sharing the resources God has given them whatever those resources may be.

Now, do you consider yourself a loving person? Do you have room to love others more? May your love be proven by your generosity…in whatever form it may flow.

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