When Little Is A Lot at Bingham Park by William Bode published on 2013-08-31T10:22:31Z Saturday, August 31, 2013 When little is a lot. 2 Corinthians 8:1-5 NLT Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. ------ Albanian Abundance "Help if you can," is a common refrain you hear from people raising funds. But maybe it should be rephrased, "help if you want joy." It's obvious from Paul's description of the Macedonians that they had a full plate. He says they are being tested by many troubles. Turning to Jesus had a huge impact on people then, it effected their employment, their relationship to the city leaders, their relationships with their families, and if the new anti-Christian witchhunters (like Paul himself had been) were in town then life could be very difficult indeed. Presumably the Macedonians were being stonewalled, hunted and taken advantage of. Imagine not being able to get work and the local real estate agents all colluding to keep you from getting a fair price for your property. Increasingly your whole church community is needy, jobless ostracised, and afraid. Into this pitiful situation the news that others you've never met are suffering moves your church to have a whip around. They are poor, and their immediate future prospects are grim and yet they find joy in giving. And although the needy in question are in a very tight spot they in fact may have actually been people who had previously been well off. The Macedonians probably had been poor at best all along and before they became followers of Jesus, where as the Jewish Christians now suffering in Jerusalem by in large could most likely have been comfortable or better off back before the persecution and the huge influx of new believers. The Macedonians in spite of their circumstances are filled with joy. And this joy manifested itself in generous giving. I've always thought (maybe influenced by loony toons) that if we only had one bean between the members of our family we'd make the bean slices a little smaller so we could get one more person at the table. The slice might be smaller but the joy would be greater. It is obvious that generosity is a by-product of joy. Joy was a by-product of faith. It is true that this new faith had landed them all in rather troubling a spot of bother. But that was only temporary (even if it lasted for years). The Macedonian believers were so confident that God would care for them that their problems didn't dash their absolute confidence in God's wonderful gift of salvation. Having received this ultimate gift they felt rich. So they had plenty to share. The giving was cathartic and addictive and spread like a virus until the whole church was giving spontaneously and sacrificially. We live now in time where every one wants to get not give. Today the answer of the educated powerful is to throw money at poverty. The failure of every project is lack of funds. The solution of every need is better funding. But the Macedonians should have been the recipients not the funders. And today most people would say that it was 'foolish' to endanger the church, and the family by short-changing yourself to help others. Paul commends them. He recognises that their generosity with stuff and money was not really the root of their generosity. Rather they had already given themselves to the Lord and to Paul. The Macedonians didn't own themselves so they didn't have to worry about taking care of themselves. They were God's. It was God's responsibility to take care of them. And they knew in Jesus they were secure so they are free to give everything away. Wouldn't you like to be so free?