Adult Uniform Sunday School Lesson for August 12, 2018
To identify the reason and ways of living generous lives in Christ
Background: 2 Corinthians 8; 9
2 Corinthians 8:7-15 (CEB)
7 Be the best in this work of grace in the same way that you are the best in everything, such as faith, speech, knowledge, total commitment, and the love we inspired in you. 8 I’m not giving an order, but by mentioning the commitment of others, I’m trying to prove the authenticity of your love also. 9 You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was rich, he became poor for our sakes, so that you could become rich through his poverty.
10 I’m giving you my opinion about this. It’s to your advantage to do this, since you not only started to do it last year but you wanted to do it too. 11 Now finish the job as well so that you finish it with as much enthusiasm as you started, given what you can afford. 12 A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly. 13 It isn’t that we want others to have financial ease and you financial difficulties, but it’s a matter of equality. 14 At the present moment, your surplus can fill their deficit so that in the future their surplus can fill your deficit. In this way there is equality. 15 As it is written, The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little.
You know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Although he was rich, he became poor for our sakes, so that you could become rich through his poverty. (2 Corinthians 8:9)
My thoughts on this lesson are going be a bit different. As I read this text I can not help but think about the way we do church today.
In essence Paul created the first Sunday School contest or challenge. He pitted one church against another in order to achieve the goal. Today we do much the same thing when we often try and outdo the other churches on our community.
Paul begins chapter eight with these words, “Brothers and sisters, we want to let you know about the grace of God that was given to the churches of Macedonia. 2 While they were being tested by many problems, their extra amount of happiness and their extreme poverty resulted in a surplus of rich generosity. 3 I assure you that they gave what they could afford and even more than they could afford, and they did it voluntarily. 4 They urgently begged us for the privilege of sharing in this service for the saints. 5 They even exceeded our expectations, because they gave themselves to the Lord first and to us, consistent with God’s will. 6 As a result, we challenged Titus to finish this work of grace with you the way he had started it.
I guess in the words of Paul, “I am giving you my opinion about this.” Paul points out in the beginning verses how good and faithful the church at Corinth is at being the best at everything.
Paul then goes on to say “this is not a command, more of a request.” Frankly it sounds more like a contest. Not that anything wrong with that. I think the words Paul uses in verse 12 “A gift is appreciated because of what a person can afford, not because of what that person can’t afford, if it’s apparent that it’s done willingly” is some very wise words . Sometimes peer pressure creates a burden to those that can not afford to give. Somehow suffering and giving creates the idea that our Christianity depends on what we give. Jesus wants us to give out of our abundance, not out of some sort of penance.
As Christians that have been bought with a great price, our giving needs to be out of love. When the bible says “God loves a cheerful giver” He means it. Paul is trying his best to make the church at Corinth “cheerful givers.”
The quotation in verse 15 from Exodus 16:18 is in the context of the story of the manna. “The one who gathered more didn’t have too much, and the one who gathered less didn’t have too little.” As unlikely as the human evidence sometimes seems, God will provide for us.
My hymn for this week is “God Will Take Care of You.”