Summary: It's easy to say, "I love," but Paul challenges the Corinthian Christians to live out their love by giving freely and generously to those in need.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15 “Genuine Love”
Most of the world knows that Facebook recently went public and that it’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg shortly after the Facebook event was married to Priscilla Chan. At $19 billion, many media personalities speculated about whether or not the couple had a pre-nuptial agreement. The Zuckerbergs have not confirmed or denied the presence of an agreement. What they have confirmed is that they have a relationship contract. Priscilla Chan famously detailed her requirements of Mark Zuckerberg in a relationship contract before moving to California to be with him. Notably, she requested 100 minutes of shared time (neither to be spent in his apartment or in the Facebook headquarters) per week. Additionally, she required one date night per week. It makes a lot of sense to place a specific time requirement on the CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company, but what about your relationship with a normal guy or gal?
The Zuckerbergs appear to have a new way of stating, “I love you.” Instead of “I love you here’s several billion dollars,” they have decided to say, “I love you, let’s spend quality time together.”
The question, “how do I show you that I love you?” is the question that is before us today as we continue to read Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. Paul advocates that there are specific ways that we can demonstrate our love for God and for each other.
There is a frequently asked question, “Do you see the glass of water half empty or half full?” If you are an optimist you will say half full, and if you are a pessimist you will say half empty. I think if you are a Christian you will say, “The glass is overflowing.” Christians understand that God is a God of abundance.
• God’s abundance is shown by what abundance of manna that he provided for the Israelites during the Exodus.
• God’s abundance is seen in the feeding of the five thousand and the twelve baskets of left overs.
• God’s abundance is seen is in the abundance of dandelions, mosquitos, and rabbits that he provides.
• God’s abundance is demonstrated by the way in which God cares for us.
We have a battle on our hands however. Many of us by our words and actions do not believe that God is a God of abundance. We live in a culture that is built on consumption. Consumers believe that they need something more—a new car, a new pair of shoes, a new fishing lure, the latest techno gadget, etc. We need more because things are scarce and we don’t have enough. We accumulate because we wonder if there will be a time when we won’t be able to get more. Consumerism encourages us to act in opposition to the message of the gospel and the reality of God’s abundance.
This is not to say that we never by anything. It is to say that we question the voice within us that whispers that we don’t have enough and we need more.
Paul understands that people do not give from scarcity. People give from abundance. As he brings the needs of the Jerusalem Christians before the Corinthian Church, Paul wants them to understand that they have been abundantly blessed.
Oftentimes people ask why there are people in need, if God is a God of abundance. Why are there homeless? Why is there poverty? Why are there tornados, earthquakes tsunamis and floods? Many people struggle with their faith at this point thinking that if God is a God of love God would not allow such suffering.
Paul comes at this question from a different perspective. If you were to ask him why there are people in need he would answer that their need provides you with the opportunity to share you abundance. Paul doesn’t see this as a one way street, either. He knows that there may be some time in the future when we will be in need and then others will have the fantastic opportunity to share from their abundance.
When making this observation, it is necessary to remind people that Paul is not conservative, or liberal. He is not a Republican or a Democrat. Paul is not for socialism or capitalism. Paul is an apostle and follower of Jesus Christ, who has had his life dramatically changed. He is challenging both the Corinthian Christians and all Christians who follow to be intentional in discovering ways to share God’s abundance with those in need.
Paul understands that we have different levels of abundance. Some have been abundantly blessed so that they are overflowing with the ability to share. Others have altered their lifestyle living more simply and are able to share more of their abundance. Others have many responsibilities and do not have as much to share as others. Paul counsels each person to give according to his or her means.