1 & 2 Corinthians: Day 33

The Collection

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Today's Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24, John 1:1-3, Philippians 2:4-11

Scripture Reading: 2 Corinthians 8:1-24, John 1:1-3, Philippians 2:4-11

I like to think I’m a generous person.

I happily give to people and causes that matter to me. My family supports campus ministers, international children’s relief organizations, and our local church. We donate stuff we don’t want or use anymore. We pat ourselves on the back, sometimes share on social media, and then go on our merry way. It doesn’t hurt, and it makes us feel good. But are we generous?

Here’s what we really are: comfortable givers.

Paul is writing to comfortable givers in this chapter of 2 Corinthians. He is fundraising for the Jerusalem fund, a task he mentions throughout his letters as he travels and writes to various Gentile churches. Specifically, he is asking Gentiles (non-Jewish converts to Christianity) to send money for the poor in Jerusalem (likely Jews), which Paul references in Acts 24:17.

In 2 Corinthians 8, Paul tells the wealthy Corinthians about the overflowing generosity of the poor Macedonians for the Jerusalem fund. “They begged us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in the ministry to the saints,” he writes of the Macedonians’ eagerness to give (v. 4).

In essence, Paul is describing the Macedonians with an unnatural equation: severe trial + affliction + extreme poverty = abundant joy + wealth of generosity.

This equation can only be true in the math of mercy. Paul has no shame about telling the Corinthians how generously the Macedonians have given, and that he expects them to do the same. He is asking them for money—and a lot of it—using words like “surplus” and “generous.”

But here’s why it seems Paul isn’t afraid to ask for money, why he is bold in telling the Corinthians just how much the Macedonians sacrificed to give: because we learn to give from the great giver Himself, Jesus. Paul is reminding the Corinthians—and us—that when we believe in Jesus, our hearts are molded in the shape of His. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ: Though he was rich, for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

We love because Jesus loved us first (1 John 4:19). We give because Jesus gave everything for us and to us. And so we don’t just give money; we give ourselves. This can look like radical or everyday hospitality—acts of service on a grand, public scale, or little ones like changing the millionth diaper or washing yet another dish, simply so someone else doesn’t have to.

Generosity isn’t a series of acts or financial decisions. Generosity is a posture, a way of living in the way of Christ. Generosity is worship, an act done in response to the ultimate generosity of our living King Jesus. We don’t give or act generously to feel good or to check a box. We give to respond to Jesus. We give to break our hearts of their grip on material, physical comfort and let them reset in the shape of Jesus’ perfectly generous heart.

We live in a world of self-care and me-time and “treat yo-self.” We are entitled to comfort, or so we believe. When the Bible’s call to radical generosity rubs up against our idol of comfort, it should chafe a little. As members of Christ’s church, we’re called to be more than just comfortable givers. We look to Jesus and we see everything poured out for us. And becoming like Him, as we endeavor to “adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5), means pouring everything out for Him.

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Melanie Rainer is a bookworm from birth who makes her days writing, editing and reading in Nashville, where she also joyfully serves as the editor of Kids Read Truth. She has an M.A. in Theological Studies from Covenant Seminary, spends as much time as she can in the kitchen, and can’t wait until her two daughters are old enough to read Anne of Green Gables.

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  • Allison Kohtz

    This post hit hard as a Houston resident because one year ago, our city was challenged to give to one another in a way many of us never had before when Harvey devastated so many lives.

  • Heidi Jones

    Wow…this one hits home. Isn’t it crazy that we so often look at time as ours-when in all reality it belongs to God? I know this passage is specifically talking about being generous in giving, and even In that area we can allow ourselves to believe we are giving enough. I’m praying that the Lord would help me to be obedient in this area.

  • Treat yo husband. Treat yo kids. Treat yo girls.

  • Monica Davis

    Give not “treat yo-self”. Love it.

    • Danize

      We must resist to not fall into the greed of wealth and realized it is more gratifying to share among our fellowmen.

  • Elizabeth

    This is so very challenging for me today! What a difference between our culture and our God. We are taught “Me first. My family first.” The Word says your fellow believers first. Others first. Asking myself today- am I a comfortable giver or a Christ like giver?

    • Julie

      But we are called to take care of our family first (1 Timothy 5:8), we just can’t use that as an excuse to not be generous towards others.

      • Janet

        My husband is always giving financially but what I am most proud of is he gives his time to search for others real needs and he listens so that he gives in the right way. Just wanted to add.

  • truthseeker

    This is so good:
    “In essence, Paul is describing the Macedonians with an unnatural equation: severe trial + affliction + extreme poverty = abundant joy + wealth of generosity.
    This equation can only be true in the math of mercy.”

    Wow ! This is an elegant solution which is brought about only by the working of the Holy Spirit in us caused by the ultimate sacrifice that Christ made as He gave His life for us that we may be saved.
    God calls us to do that which is unnatural to human nature – He call us to do that which is natural to His holy nature.

  • Andrea Scott

    Generosity is worship, an act done in response to the ultimate generosity of our living King Jesus.”
    So powerful

  • Robyn Yates

    Excellent words!!

  • Wow, what a reminder by Paul! Even though we know with our minds the truth of these verses when it comes to having an servant’s heart, so often our hearts forget or claim amnesia. But praise be to God who reminds us, through Paul, and his words in 2 Corinthians 8:8-9, “I say this not as a command, but to prove by the EARNESTNESS of others that your love also is GENUINE. 9 For you know the GRACE of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for YOUR SAKE he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” (emphasis mine) By these verses I’m reminded of 1 Corinthians 13 & Luke 6:30-35. This truth remains, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” – John 13:35

  • Jennifer Martin

    ❤️

  • I would love prayer for healing. A few weeks ago, I was struck by a car while riding my bike. I am so blessed that I am mostly okay, but I have been recovering from a pretty awful concussion. This led me to a dark place emotionally, where I have had to seek God’s comfort above all else. I appreciate prayers for a renewed heart & mind.

    • She Reads Truth

      Hi Annie, thanks for sharing. We’ll be praying for you as you continue to recover for healing, comfort, and encouragement. So glad that you’re here! -Margot, The SRT Team

    • DebRN

      Dear Jesus, Please touch Annie with your loving presence just now. I, too, love my bike while being mindful of being alone on the bike, accidents and such. I pray that the very public cross You died on reveals the depth of Your love to Annie. Who loves us so much? May this praying community come alongside her in this temporary season of suffering. I thank You even now, as your healing processes are at work. You are loved for yourself, dear Annie. You are precious and beloved.

    • Michelle

      Annie – I will be praying for healing for you

    • Kat

      Hi Annie! Prayers your way as I type. My little sister had post-concussive disorder after a tough soccer fall which resulted in several weeks of unexplained depression – apparently your serotonin levels can be altered as your brain heals, making healing from a concussion a very emotionally challenging experience – not to mention the emotional toll that being in an accident can have (so happy to hear you are safe and healing!!). I would definitely consult with your healthcare provider – sometimes your body and mind just need a little recovery time and sometimes your body needs a little time and a little brain hormone balancing (which, for my sister, came in the form of a temporary dosing of medication).

      Sending over prayers of healing and wisdom for your journey and for the availability of treatment options that uniquely provide you with the best course of action for your emotional and physical healing experience.

  • This is an amazing piece of scripture. I’m so struck by the idea that it’s not about hardship for you and relief for others. It’s about equality. I love this so much. He didn’t want us to give until it hurts or give to make a point or give as a means of punishing ourselves. The point is that we currently have a surplus and other people don’t, so it’s only fair to share with them in the name of equality. And if we too should fall on hardship someday, then we can feel secure that they would in turn help us. Now that’s a foundation for a healthy society!

  • Abigail Klansek

    This was something I needed to read today. I am currently in the support raising process to work for a humanitarian aid mission organization and I have to completely trust God to provide for me and provide people who want to support me financially and in prayer. While many people who support me are comfortable givers, many give as a sacrifice and are trusting God themselves. I often forget this in the mist of my own doubts. Thankful for this devo today and God’s faithfulness and mercy in our lives!

  • Allison Fortson

    This is insane. I speak about giving to the church every Sunday before tithe is taken. Wow this opened my eyes to seeing giving in a way I never did!

  • Kelly Chataine

    Asking God to help me see the needs of others and to help me go and grow from a comfortable giver to emptying myself. Thankful for God’s Word and SRT community!

  • Megan Crane

    I needed to hear this today. In the same boat though, I think there is time needed to take care of yourself and I’m having a hard time towing the line. As a mama of 3 littles (6, nearly 4, and 9 months), I’ve always tried to follow that you can’t give from an empty cup. Or is that the world trying to brainwash me? I suppose if I keep giving, God would give me the strength to get through it all? But dang, it’s exhausting!

    • Sandy Forsythe

      Hi Megan, My kids are all grown- but I remember well the ‘give all I’ve got’ heart of a mom. I’d like to suggest a powerful little book for you – it’s a kids book- but the message is for parents: The Giving Tree.
      It’s about a tree that let the people do anything to it- and it ends up a stump….
      Don’t feel guilty taking care of yourself as you care for your kids – your time it just as important as theirs – maybe more so, because if you are worn out – and need refreshing- your likely crabby and short tempered with them…and that is not your goal.

      Take care. And May Our Father put His arms around you!

    • Donna Thackerson

      Megan, you are precious in God’s sight. The Holy Spirit will guide your giving and living. He will lead you in self-care and how/when to pour yourself out to others.
      Take courage and live with eyes wide open to His leading. Enjoy he moments. You will be exhausted in the end. You will be “spent”. But it will be a “good tired” as you live through sweet obedience

    • Christy

      You are surely in the hardest season, and only in Christ can you persevere. Lean into Him in all aspects, both in sensing when to dig in and pull from the bottom, and when to rest and let Him take over. Don’t let your eyes rest on either your own works OR your own needs. Keeping your eyes on Him, His power and miracle-making is the way to do it. He’s the only one who knows how this whole “balance” idea is supposed to work. Peace and love to you!

      • Brandi

        Wow. Challenged by this – “Don’t let your eyes rest on either your own works OR your own needs”. Thanks!

    • charlie woodruff

      ❤️

    • September Shaw

      Megan, I’m working on a devotional I’m writing for my church this morning on 1 Cor 10:24 (let no man seek his own good but the good of others) which aligns so closely with the verse in Philippians here. It’s in a series on asking the Lord into your health, so I’m wrestling with this exact question of self care vs. selfishness. Your question made me think of what I was working on, so I thought I’d share this excerpt in case it helps:

      “It is possible to live a life that fits with this verse in Corinthians and still a life where you are healthy. Where you are achieving what you were called to achieve, be who you believe you can be, while still treating others better than you even dream of treating yourself. These goals are not mutually exclusive; they are mutually beneficial. After all: if you truly live your life loving others more fully than you love yourself, and you raise the bar on how you love yourself, then all you’re really doing is raising the bar on just how well you’ll love others.”

      • Aubri Foster

        ❤️ -self care VS selfishness… FANTASTIC! This is a hard concept for us to learn because they are NOT synonymous, but for some reason in our ever Jesus loving brains we see them as such. Jesus often took time to get alone with God, step away from the crowd or let the disciples go ahead so he could catch a minute. Be encouraged!

    • Audra Crispin

      “Me time” is very important… and it’s different for everyone. But especially as a mom, I am a better mom to my kids when I’ve had some time alone to relax and rejuvenate and do something I enjoy. I am able to give more of me to my kids when I am full… if I’m empty, I cant poor anything out. And some days, it’s God who has to fill me…
      I’ve been teaching my girls with summer about being generous and looking for one opportunity’s each month that we can take a portion of what we have and give to them… it has been such a blessing to watch them bless others.

    • Marushca Van Noordwyk

      Proverbs 31 is my ideal example for being a woman of character in today’s life. V22 states that she dresses in fine linen and purple gowns, it doesn’t state that she wears rags and has messy hair…. There is a difference in over-indulging in yourself and taking care of yourself.

      • Jocelyn Hammer

        Thank you. Too often we do a pendulum swing one way, then a pendulum swing the other. And everyone is different in their needs and abilities. Some love being around people, some don’t, some have boundless energy, some don’t. We’re all part of the body.

  • Churchmouse

    It’s interesting that Paul says in this section that he wants the brothers and sisters to know “about the grace of God.” He commended them for excelling in faith, speech, knowledge, diligence and love (vs. 7). That’s not enough, says Paul. He challenges then to” excel also in this act of grace.”He goes so far as to tell them he is” testing the genuineness of your love.” Paul ties grace to love. While mercy is not receiving what we do deserve, grace is receiving what we don’t deserve. When we understand all that Christ has given us, His grace, especially in light of our unworthiness, our natural response will be love, abundant love. When we understand His grace, we are eager to love Him in return – with acts of generosity towards others. We give as we have been given. Grace resulting in generosity reveals the genuineness of our love. Abundant grace. Abundant generosity. Abundant love. How amazing!

  • If there was “favorites button” for these studies, I would press it for this one! So many good nuggets of truth and speaking straight to my heart on a week where I’ve struggled to be generous with my time and to be more like Christ. I needed this so much today!❤️

  • I’m just coming in on day 33 here… It’s been a while since I’ve connected on these pages. But thank you for the reminder to count my giving as a privilege. To come back to the generosity of Jesus every time and remember that “he didn’t count equality with God as something to be grasped” is a nudge away from doing things for recognitions sake. I’m in a place of feeling overwhelmed by all that is required of me in my various spheres (as a working mum, running a church youth group) and it’s a reminder in this season to “count what is taken as given”. I think I’m also challenged to be confident to go to those who are less time-poor and ask them for generosity as well in the way Paul did here!
    Excuse me, I’m just thinking out loud. Thanks for this food for thought.

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