Verse: 2 Corinthians 8: 13-15
13 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. 14 At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. Then there will be equality, 15 as it is written: “He who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little.”
I’m sure that I have read these verses many times before but the act of spending time with them to parse out the meaning for our lives really brings out a new depth of meaning for me. The first thing that jumped out at me is the word “equality.” It must be important since he said it twice. This is translated from the Greek word isotes which means equality of treatment, fairness, likeness, proportional, equitable. I am guessing that the isosceles triangle has the same root (two equal sides).
Paul then cites Exodus 16:18 where everyone who left Egypt with Moses was getting fed from manna and should gather it in a way that everyone got the same amount. Those Jews that knew the Torah (Old Testament) would know that this was God’s decree. Everyone would have enough. No one would have too little.
This can be a challenging concept for us, right? We are in a society where each of us is out to get as much as we can. Work hard and reap the rewards. Christian just finished a sermon series on working “unto the Lord.” Hard work is a good thing and encouraged in the Bible.
I think these verses today are supposed to make us check our hearts about material things. Are we like toddlers who, when they see a toy, they rush over a pick it up and say “Mine!” Our natural desire is to want to have good things, things that give us pleasure, and more is better. But God is saying to look at others around you. Are others going without enough food or clothes or shelter, the basics of life? If all Christians everywhere are our brothers and sisters, shouldn’t we hurt if they are hurting? Shouldn’t we want to be generous to those who are really in need? Paul is not providing a rule or a requirement for how much we give. But he is saying that we should look at where there is inequality and give to make sure that no one has too little.
What does this look like for you? I don’t know. I’m still wrestling with what this looks like for me. I try to give when I am moved by seeing a need. I ask the Holy Spirit to guide me when a need is presented. But I also look back each year at the end of the year to see if I am being generous. I think both are important – some spontaneity and some conscious planning. Maybe this devotion is coming to you today so that you can take stock of your giving this year. We are all blessed. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit today to bring to mind other people and/or needs where people have too little and where we are supposed to help.
Father God, send your Holy Spirit to us today to guide us in the ways you want us to grow in generosity. Help us to know that everything is yours and we are stewards of your gifts to us. You have given us so much. Help us to be more like you. Thank you for your generosity and your love.
Author: Brad Dunn