for if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.  for i do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of fairness  your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.  as it is written, “whoever gathered much had nothing left over, and whoever gathered little had no lack.” [2 corinthians 8:12-15]
i work in financial services and i am surrounded by numbers, economic predictions, market conditions, etc., every day–and i am struck by how much the world is concerned with knowing. knowing about what is going to happen with the stock market. knowing how much money i will have when i retire. knowing that i will be safe. comfortable. secure.
God’s economy is different. it doesn’t work in the way that the world’s economy works, but it is more sure, because we are promised:
for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. [matthew 6:8b]
he who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? [romans 8:32]
therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘what shall we eat?’ or ‘what shall we drink?’ or ‘what shall we wear?’ for the gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. [matthew 6:31-33]
God creates the world from nothing. makes an old man a father of nations by a barren woman. he lays waste to pharoah’s empire without a war. defeats the empire of midian with only 300 men. makes a shepherd boy king. sends his Son to earth as a baby. feeds the 5000 with five loaves and two fish. allows his Son to be killed. takes a small band of martyrs to bring his message to billions. God’s economy doesn’t make sense to us.
paul comments about the relative comfort of the corinthians and implores them to give out of their abundance. a bold request–and a request we should take to heart! the american church is rife with abundance–not so that we can be safe, comfortable, secure, but so that we might be faithful in giving, in sending out laborers, feeding the needy, and being a part of sending the gospel to the world! we are not doing this well. we should mourn our unfaithfulness and ask for God to forgive us for falling so short. but there is grace upon grace for us. let us be filled with the joy that can only overflow in abundant worship and extravagant giving. we give because he first gave to us.
paul finishes the verse by quoting exodus [exodus 16:18] referring to those who gathered manna in the wilderness. and we should take heed–God’s economy means that we should live truly in the way that Jesus tells us to pray: “give us this day our daily bread.” [matthew 6:11]. what if this is the way that we lived–and gave away in abundance? when we try to gather more and store up for ourselves, the result is manna/mammon that stinks and breeds worms in our hearts, and those kinds of hearts are not soft and open-handed with possessions. as christians, we know what kind of future lies ahead of us, we don’t have to look at financial calculators or market predictions–we just need to look to the word. let us not hoard our wealth, love possessions too much and prove that our treasure lies somewhere other than the Lord Jesus Christ!
Father, forgive us for falling short of giving out of our abundance. reorient our hearts, help us to remember our first love and return to the precious truth of the gospel. help us not to give out of compulsion but out of the generosity that you have given to us. it is all yours Lord, help us to steward it well.