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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 2 Corinthians 8:7–15

Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something—now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one does not have. I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.” (NRSV)

Reflection
Let’s be clear about this: money is not enough. Money can’t mend broken hearts; it can’t save the lost. Money can’t repair relationships; it can’t change the past.

But let’s not fool ourselves: as long as we’re in this world, with all of its human trappings and failings, not much gets done without money—and that includes the work of God. When used correctly, money can feed the hungry, house those without homes, heal the sick, and lift the lowly. It can stop wars, provide clean water, silence the rat-a-tat-tat of guns, and restore God’s creation. Money, when dedicated for the purposes of God, can baptize the world in mercy and beauty.

The Apostle Paul knew that. He writes to the church in Corinth to raise money for the church in Jerusalem—tasked with a specific ministry to the poor. Paul is writing to the newly baptized who are still trying to learn what it means to be Christian. So he tells those who have embarked on this wild and curious Christian life to dig deep and commit. Paul tells these newly minted disciples to match their eagerness, their yearning to be closer with God, with their gifts—money. If you match your hunger for God with your gifts, you partner with God in bringing heaven and earth closer. With your giving, you grow deeper in relationship with one another—and by doing so, you grow deeper with God. By giving—and giving abundantly—you join in accomplishing God’s reign on earth.

Money is not everything, but until God’s reign is complete, we need it. But hear this: if given abundantly and spent rightly, our gifts can bring us ever closer.

Prayer
Blessed are you, God of all creation;
everything I am and everything I have belongs to you alone.
Open my heart to your grace, that I might give and do so abundantly,
that by my giving, I will partner with you in the holy work of love and mercy in the world. Amen.

Written by Shawn Fiedler, Worship and Adult Education Coordinator


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