Day 11: Perspective
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, or in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord, begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints— and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.
Accordingly, we urged Titus that as he had started, so he should complete among you this act of grace. But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you—see that you excel in this act of grace also. 2 Corinthians 8:1-7
Devotional Material: Perspective
Ann Jonas created a children’s book called Round Trip that has become one of my favorites. The storyline is quite boring, telling of a basic trip from the country into the city and back home again. That’s not what makes it fabulous. It’s her perspective. Once the reader has taken the journey into the city and explored the sights displayed on the pages, the book comes to an end, with something like, “It’s time to turn around.” The reader flips the book upside down and begins to read it from back to front, looking at the same pictures they just completed, upside down and backward. This time, the story shows an entirely different perspective using the same illustrations to travel back home. It’s like a visual palindrome.
Most I encounter have a similar reaction the first time they read it. “I never saw THAT coming!”
Sometimes hope awakens in similar unanticipated yet delightful ways.
Paul was literally gathering money to help the believers in Jerusalem as he traveled from place to place. The poverty experienced by those in the Church there at that time was deep and recurrent. He had no issue or hesitation asking other believers to help them, whether rich and poor. I don’t even want to ask someone to buy a one-dollar candy bar for the school PTA, but Paul understood what I often miss. God was the mover of hearts, not any human. And the act of giving was more than passing along a monetary amount. Contributing of self and possession was a catalyst for hope.
Just listen to the impact giving made on the Macedonian believers (vs. 2-5). It wasn’t simply a financial gift or sacrifice. They gave themselves—their time and energy—to God and then to the cause. As Paul moved on to another area, this time the Corinthian church, he asked the same of this more able and gifted group of believers.
We don’t know if the Corinthians were willing to offer themselves like the Macedonians or if they were moved by the Spirit to do so. Who knows the impact of Paul’s words on the believers who received them? But this leader was spot on to invite their participation and allow the Holy Spirit to move as He chose.
Who are we?
Who are we not to exhibit the courage to invite people into this Hope Awakening experience Paul so aptly describes? Why would we keep silent when people so desperately need it and the personal benefits to the giver are so blaring? The Holy Spirit is ultimately responsible, not Paul, not you, and not me.
It’s uncomfortable. Awkward. And hits people in areas they care deeply about. I’m sure this has not changed in two thousand years. Some of us simply don’t like to ask people to buy candy bars. Others of us don’t like to be asked. I admit, as one who tends to stare at the unsold box of chocolate in the corner, these are personal preferences based on comfort and ease. What is undeniable is that the Word of God illuminates a profound relationship between hope and giving that can only be known through experience.
Could we change our perspective? Are our preferences worth missing the overflow these Macedonians realized? The needs are great. Opportunities abound. The Holy Spirit is still Awakening Hope through this unanticipated yet delightful avenue.
How might we allow God to move us to be more generous in freely giving of ourselves and what we have toward the opportunities He makes known to us?
How might we exhibit greater courage to invite others to come alongside to help those in need?
Leave a prayer or response below so that we can participate together as we walk this journey alongside each other.
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