Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
Our Epistle for this week, from 2 Corinthians chapter 8, uses the churches in Macedonia as an example to the Corinthians. Though the Macedonians at the time were undergoing trials and poverty, they acted in a generous manner, begging to be allowed to give for relief of others. The apostle Paul uses this example to urge the Corinthians, who are not in need, to dedicate themselves to helping others.
We notice a few important takeaways from this passage. First, all the giving was voluntary. There was no compulsion to help others, except the compulsion which come from a conscience stricken by the suffering of those in need. Second, there were still clear distinctions between rich and poor. Although we see a suggestion of equality in verse 14, it is immediately followed by verse 15 which allows for differences in wealth. Third, and probably most important, the churches in Macedonia were in no position to engage in charity. Apparently the Christian leaders were discouraging them from giving from their poverty. But they were determined to care for the needy. They recognized that the Lord of all had graciously provided them with what they needed for their daily life, and that they had the opportunity to be God’s instrument in helping others. They begged to be allowed to contribute to the care of the needy.
As God has blessed us, we care for others. Sometimes we have a greater ability to do so than other times. Sometimes we are the people who are cared for. Some of the care is financial, as in this Bible passage, while some is not. Whatever we have opportunity to do loving our neighbors as ourselves, we do, not because we are compelled, but because we see and care for the needs around us.
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