One of the outcomes of the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 was that the Gentile churches were encouraged to remember the poor. (The Jerusalem church elders recognised formally that the kingdom of God was open to all – that Gentiles were welcomed with the good news of the Gospel). Paul recounts that was the very thing that he was eager to do (Gal2:10). In today’s passage he is encouraging the believers in Corinth to give to help the poor believers in Jerusalem. He does that emphasising the grace of giving in 2 ways – the example of the Macedonians v1-8 and the example of Jesus v9-15 before detailing some practical arrangements.
Are a huge challenge to us all! They were in severe affliction, abundantly joyful and extreme poverty. They sound like oxymorons, but joy is not dependant on circumstances – only happiness which comes from happenstances. Those joyful poor believers in the midst of severe affliction begged to be able to give – they were overflowing in generosity. Joy tends to bubble over in generosity.
It came out of grace v1 – the unmerited favour of God which meant they wanted the favour (the grace word in Greek!) to give. Grace leads to gracious living and generosity. Paul upbraids the Corinthians as they excel in so many things – faith, speech, knowledge and earnestness, but he wants them to excel in the act of grace in giving generously.
Is the greatest example Paul gives. Jesus though rich, became poor so that they might become rich.
There’s a circle of supply between churches here – they are in abundance while another one is in need. One day they may be in need and the other church will be in abundance. I’ve seen this in action in the two churches I have been involved in planting. There have been times when we have been generously helped as we were in need and then roles have swapped and we have been able to give back. There’s mutual love and supply in a family of churches.
Right now the Roma churches in Serbia who are part of the Relational Mission family. In normal times they are seasonal migrating workers harvesting and so on, but this year that has not been possible. So now this winter they will starve. Please watch this video and allow the Lord to stir your heart