The weather in the Pacific Northwest has been fantastic over the last couple weeks. Yes, there has been some rain, but there has been a tremendous amount of sunshine! The abundance of sunshine and lack of rain means that we need to be mindful of watering our plants. Something that we take for granted most of the year, rain, will now need to be supplemented with watering to keep our lawns green and plants alive.
I believe that every genuine Christian desires to impact others in a positive way. The one way that God works in the lives of others is through my actions. My studies on generosity, reminded me that our actions can release God’s grace into the lives of others. Paul writes, “We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia,” (2 Corinthians 8:1) Most Christians have a tendency to think about what I will call saving grace when we read about grace in the Bible. The context of this passage, while not denying God’s saving grace, is actually describing another aspect of God’s grace. The grace spoken of here, is what I call enabling grace. It is the power from God to do a certain task. This enabling grace can be the strength to take the high road during a time of personal conflict. It can be taking ownership for our wrongs when there are significant consequences attached. Here it speaks of the extremely poor Macedonian Christians generosity to help others in need.
Let me refer you to read 2 Corinthians 8 for more specifics. What stood out to me is how my generosity is a channel for God’s grace into the lives of others. The “grace of God” that Paul is referring to is the Macedonians gifts toward the collection for starving believers in Judah. Yes, they had experienced God’s saving grace through Paul’s ministry. Here is seen God’s diving enabling in their generosity.
I want you to stop and think about all the ways that God’s power can be released into the life of another person because of your actions. It could be your generosity like is mentioned here. It could also flow because of your kindness. It also flows when you offer forgiveness. Actually, every Christian grace becomes an opportunity to release God’s power into the life of another person.
A second insight stood out to me. Recently I was listening to a message on generosity. The Pastor mentioned that we do not have to be rich to be generous; we just need to be generous to be generous. Those are power words that are illustrated in this passage. The Apostle Paul did not even ask these Christians to give toward the special offering because of their extreme poverty. The context reminds us that they had to beg for the opportunity to give! My experience has been that it is those that have the least that are the most willing to share with others. We use many excuses to rationalize why we do not give or act in a certain way. Yet when we do respond we become a channel for God’s grace into the lives of those that desperately need a touch from God.
A third insight is the generosity and practicing the Christian graces that bless others is a privilege. The Macedonian Christians were not obligated to give but voluntarily chose to give. When you think about it, all aspects of the Christian life are a privilege. It is a privilege to pray. It is a privilege to give. It is a privilege to attend worship services. These practices and many others are privileges of being a Christian.
Just like warming weather reminds us to open the spigot to water our plants. Our relationship to Jesus Christ reminds us to open the spigot of God’s grace for the benefit of others through our actions. When you put God’s truth into practice, stand back and watch what God does in others and in you.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson