Good morning! I hope this day finds you and your family well, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers daily during this difficult time.
I invite you to take a few moments with me to reflect on today’s Upper Room Devotional below — as well as on the theology woven into “It is well with my soul.”
2 Corinthians 9:6-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
6 The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. 7 Each of you must give as you have made up your mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8 And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that by always having enough of everything, you may share abundantly in every good work. 9 As it is written,
“He scatters abroad, he gives to the poor;
his righteousness[a] endures forever.”
10 He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.[b] 11 You will be enriched in every way for your great generosity, which will produce thanksgiving to God through us; 12 for the rendering of this ministry not only supplies the needs of the saints but also overflows with many thanksgivings to God. 13 Through the testing of this ministry you glorify God by your obedience to the confession of the gospel of Christ and by the generosity of your sharing with them and with all others, 14 while they long for you and pray for you because of the surpassing grace of God that he has given you. 15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
Tim’s Devotional Reflection for Today
Our reading for today is from Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. The apostle Paul in his letters to the young churches–most of which Paul himself had founded–is engaged in exhortation, teaching, straightening out problems, and raising funds. Now, that last one may surprise you, but it is true. There was a famine in and around Jerusalem and Paul was taking up a collection for the Christians there, that they may have their needs met. He sought the help of the Christians in the other churches, including Corinth, and asked that they start setting gifts aside for this purpose.
The word he uses for the “gift” he wants them to give is the same word for “blessing,” and his point is that God blesses them so that they can bless others. It was not enough to wish the poverty-stricken Jerusalem Christians well; the Corinthians needed to do what they could to help.
Writing to Christians in the wealthy Greek city of Corinth, Paul reminds them of their promise to give him a “bountiful gift” for the poor Christians in Jerusalem (2 Corinthians 9:5). Although he describes this as a completely voluntary gift, it is clear that Paul expects the Corinthians to be generous in their support.
In his sermon on the use of money, Wesley said, “[Money] is an excellent gift of God, answering the noblest ends. In the hands of his children, it is food for the hungry, drink for the thirsty, [clothing] for the naked: It gives to the traveler and the stranger where to lay his head. By it we may supply the place of a husband to the widow, and of a father to the fatherless. We may be a defense for the oppressed, a means of health to the sick, of ease to them that are in pain; it may be as eyes to the blind, as feet to the lame; yea, a lifter up from the gates of death!” [John Wesley, “The Use of Money,” Sermon Fifty, The Sermons of John Wesley, 1872 Edition, Thomas Jackson, editor]
When you choose to heavily invest in God’s purposes, you will find that your spiritual life is elevated to a higher level. Giving is ultimately about a response to God’s grace and an expression of our trust in God.
Patrick Johnson experienced how giving enriches life one day when he wrote a check for an air-conditioner. Johnson was a vice president at BancorpSouth Investment Services, so he was doing pretty well for himself, financially, but he discovered that his greatest joy was not to be found in managing fixed-income portfolios.
Instead, he discovered, his joy came from giving. Paul said that God loves a cheerful giver and the Greek word for “cheerful” is hilaros—the root of our word “hilarious.” The joy in giving that Patrick Johnson discovered bordered on hilarity. As he was writing a check to help purchase a central air-conditioning unit for a local homeless shelter, he started praying and thinking about the joy that would be felt by the homeless men as they slept in an air-conditioned room in the sweltering Mississippi heat. What welled up in Patrick Johnson, as he prayed, was laughter. He was actually so overwhelmed with joy that he laughed. It was spontaneous laughter, born out of the joy of giving.
Thank you for sharing this early moment of your day with me, with God, and with the words and music that I hope you will carry with you throughout the coming day and night.
I am so grateful for you, for our church, and for the Love that will see us all through this very difficult time. Please stay safe and well and we’ll be together again in spirit tomorrow morning!
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster