And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. Out of the most 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 saints. 2 Corinthians 8:1-4
Most wonderful and merciful Lord Jesus, I feel like I’m getting to watch this Macedonian miracle of generosity play out all over again. Throughout our flood-devastated area, those who’ve lost very much are extending themselves to those who have lost even more. Believers who’ve been without work for months are investing their “free time” to rip out no-longer-dry dry wall, tear up water-soaked floors, and simply serve in any and every way possible. Theoretical grace is becoming concrete grace, and it’s absolutely beautiful.
Jesus, is this the new math of the kingdom? Severe trial and extreme poverty + God’s grace = overflowing joy and rich generosity? Indeed, what but the gospel of God’s grace can explain the motivation to give beyond one’s ability to give? What but your irrepressible, extravagant, and outrageous love can account for the phenomenon of believers urgently pleading for the privilege of sharing?
Jesus, of this I am freshly convinced: Gospel-generosity is the best antidote for self-pity. As toxic as the water is that we’ve been sloshing though these past days in each others’ yards and homes, it doesn’t even begin to compare with the soul-shrinking and heart-decaying toxicity and poison of self-pity.
Continue to bring more and more of your Macedonian-styled grace to us, Jesus. Bring this kind of revival and renewal. We don’t need more of us cramming into creative enthusiastic services of worship just to enjoy ourselves. We need more of us moving into the broken places of our communities and neighborhoods living as your worship servants, loving others as you love us.
Just as we love you only because you first loved us, Jesus, we become cheerful givers only because you are the quintessential Cheerful Giver. You who were rich became poor for us, so that we who are poor might become rich in you… and generous with you wherever you send us. So very Amen, we pray, in your most glorious name.