Living in the materialistic world we live in, this HAS to be today’s passage. The more calloused and familiar to passages like these that we get, the more we need to hear them, and new wording only helps.
We brought nothing into the world, after all, and we certainly can’t take anything out. If we have food and clothing, we should be satisfied with it. People who want to be rich, by contrast, fall into temptation and a trap, and into many foolish and dangerous lusts which drown people in devastation and destruction. The love of money, you see, is the root of all evil. Some people have been so eager to get rich that they have wandered away from the faith and have impaled themselves painfully in several ways. . . . What about people who are rich in this present world? Tell them not to think of themselves too highly, and to set their hopes, not on something so uncertain as riches, but on the God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous and eager to share. That way, they will treasure up for themselves a good foundation for the future, and thereby come to possess the life which really is life. (6:7-10, 17-19)
Categories: 1 Timothy
Tags: 1 Timothy, Bible, generosity, get rich, good works, materialism, money, reading, rich, riches, sharing, tempted, wealth
There has been a whole lot of talk about strength in the Corinthian correspondence this past month. Strong leaders, strong reasoning and speaking skills, a strong tolerance for sin (though too strong for Paul’s liking), a strong sense of grace (again, too strong), strong pocketbooks, strong charisma and gifting, strong leaders, strong egos, and strong boasts. Corinth was a culture of strength, and so was this church.
We have already seen Paul say there are other strengths to have that are far more important. They need a strong sense of unity that bridges the many divides they have allowed to form in their church. They need a strong love towards each other shown through character, not spiritual gifts. They need a strong spirit of generosity so as to help those who have real need in the world. Today, Paul ends these two volumes with one more kind of true strength the Corinthians should be sure to have in a culture that seems hyper-focused on strength. They would do well to be strong in doing the right thing.
Test yourselves to see if you really are in the faith! Put yourselves through the examination. Or don’t you realize that Jesus the Messiah is in you? — unless, that is, you’ve failed the test. I hope you will discover that we didn’t fail the test. But we pray to God that you will never, ever do anything wrong; not so that we can be shown up as having passed the test, but so that you will do what is right. (13:7)
What big idea really stood out to you during this year’s reading of the Corinthian correspondence?
Categories: 2 Corinthians
Tags: 2 Corinthians, Bible, boasting, charisma, charm, church, ego, generosity, grace, holiness, leadership, love, money, power, pride, reading, right, sin, strength, tolerance, unity, wrong
We are now solidly in the section where Paul beseeches the Corinthians to imitate the generous giving of the Macedonians. This is likely referring to the collection Paul was accumulating for the famine-striken Christians in Jerusalem. Paul’s pitch rivals anything I have ever heard in any church capital campaign!
It is this line that catches my attention today:
The abundance of grace that was given to them (the Macedonians), and the depths of poverty they have endured, have overflowed in a wealth of sincere generosity on their part. (8:2)
I am wondering if these are the two most important elements to being a generous giver.
When we become truly aware of how much grace and how many gifts have been given to us by God, a grateful heart is produced. Maybe gratefulness far outweighs expendable income as a key motivator for lavish giving.
It appears the Macedonians knew what poverty was like. They must have had some lean years themselves. They could relate to the plight of the Christians in Jerusalem. Maybe empathy and compassion goes much further towards producing a generous heart than pity or an intellectual sense of responsibility.
What do you think creates a generous spirit?
Categories: 2 Corinthians
Tags: 2 Corinthians, Bible, compassion, empathy, generosity, generous, giving, grace, gratefulness, help, money, need, Paul, poverty, reading
"The Red Vineyard" by Vincent Van Gogh
Today I had one of those “I’ve never seen that line before” experiences.
Jesus tells the crowds the parable of the vineyard workers. The vineyard owner goes out at the various times throughout the day hiring workers, but then pays all of them the same fair amount — one dinar, a day’s wage. No one is shorted, mind you. The owner is extravagantly generous with the workers who came late in the day, especially those who only worked one hour. Fifty dollars to pick lettuce for a whole day in California’s Central Valley is half-decent if you are a migrant worker; fifty dollars for working an hour in the same fields is a celebration! This is a wonderful parable of God’s grace, and a sober reminder that there have always been and still are hard-hearted people of God who don’t want anyone to get something they don’t deserve.
"The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard" by Rembrandt (I love the contrast between the come-lately pair in the right foreground laughing about their good fortune and the consternation on the look of the all-day workers grabbing hold of the landowner who seem to feel like they have been cheated)
It is verse 7 that I have never seen before. The vineyard owner asked the last group of hired workers why they were still standing in the marketplace with nothing to do. Their response:
“Because no one has hired us,” they replied. (20:7a)
These are the rejects. The picked-over leftovers. The pathetic lot who couldn’t get a job earlier. And the vineyard owner utters the most wonderful words to them too:
“Well,” he said, “you too can go into the vineyard.” (20:7b)
The landowner’s vineyard — God’s kingdom — is a place even for the rejects. Praise God!
What did you notice in this chapter?
Tags: Bible, BIble reading, extravagance, generosity, grace, jesus, kingdom, kingdom of God, matthew, parable, payment, rejects, vineyard workers, wages