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.”
Special thanks to Peggy Graff and her guests for providing this uplifting and inspiring addition to us in her Hymn-a-Day May series. I pray that these paired daily selections will uplift your spirits and feed your soul as much as it does mine.
2 Corinthians 9:6-11 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;
Jesus and Money. Jesus talked a lot about giving and how we handle money and all that is entrusted to us. Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables were concerned with how to handle money and possessions. In the Gospels, an amazing one out of ten verses (288 in all) deal directly with the subject of money. The Bible offers 500 verses on prayer, less than 500 verses on faith, but more than 2,000 verses on money and possessions. Jesus dealt with money matters because money matters. Money is both powerful and neutral and can be used for good or for evil, to enrich life or impoverish it.
In the church, we often refer to certain practices as important for our growth in the Spirit. They include Prayer, Bible study, Worship, and Service. We generally refer to them as “spiritual disciplines” or “means of grace.” The disciplines help us avoid superficiality in our faith, which Richard J. Foster, who has written a book on the disciplines, calls “the curse of our age,” adding “the doctrine of instant satisfaction is a primary spiritual problem.” He explains that the spiritual disciplines “call us to move beyond surface living into the depths. They invite us to explore the inner caverns of the spiritual realm.”
GIVING is one of those spiritual disciplines, which means it’s one practice that helps us avoid superficiality in our faith.
The 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 varied 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.
Here the Apostle Paul tells us how our own thoughts and feelings about giving as a spiritual practice can impact the very quality of our lives.
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]
As we give, we will come to see what many have discovered: that money cannot buy happiness, but generosity can.
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