Keeping Christmas Well: Live with Graceful GenerosityDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.
2 Corinthians 8:
How can we live rich, full lives? How can we flourish at work and at home, at church and in the community? Second Corinthians 8 answers these questions by drawing out implications of the Incarnation of Christ.
Second Corinthians 8 is a first-century fund-raising letter. The Apostle Paul wrote this chapter to encourage the Corinthian Christians to contribute to his collection for the financially strapped Christians in Jerusalem. In fact, the Corinthians had begun to support this charitable work (8:6, 10). Now it was time for them to finish what they had begun.
After offering initial reasons why the Corinthians should be generous, Paul plays his theological trump card, pointing to the example of Christ himself: “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich” (8:9). The grace of Christ is revealed in his Incarnation. He once “was rich” in that he enjoyed all the perks of deity (see Phil. 2:6-7). Yet Christ “became poor” by becoming a human being. It’s not just that he was born into a family that didn’t have much money. Christ’s “poverty” in this text is his very humanity. When you go from being fully God to being fully human and fully God, that’s quite a sacrifice, a move from essential richness to essential poverty.
Notice why Christ chose to make this sacrifice. He did it, Paul writes to the Corinthians, “for your sakes” (8:9). In fact, he became “poor” so that the Corinthians might become “rich.” This richness was all-inclusive. It surely referred to the benefits of salvation and the gifts of the Spirit. But in context, it also referred to the financial blessings God had poured out upon the Corinthians. And it suggested that their richness was not just having money but sharing it generously with others.
Second Corinthians 8 reminds us of how Christ, through his Incarnation, has blessed us beyond measure. This passage also urges us to be generous in sharing with others what we have so graciously received.
Thus, we come full circle in our series on Keeping Christmas Well. As you may recall, the name of this series came from Charles Dickens’ classic description of Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol. After Scrooge’s supernatural transformation, he promised to “honour Christmas in [his] heart, and try to keep it all year.” He was good to his word, such that the end of A Christmas Carol observes that Scrooge “knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.” At the center of Scrooge’s “keeping Christmas well” was his generosity with people in need.
Centuries before Dickens, the Apostle Paul connected the birth of Jesus with the generosity of his followers. Therefore, keeping Christmas well means being people of generosity, freely sharing with others what God has so richly given us in Christ. As we joyfully receive God’s grace, we cheerfully give to others. Thus, like Ebenezer Scrooge, through our graceful generosity, we keep Christmas well.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: How does the metaphor of Christ’s becoming poor in the Incarnation speak to you? Are you enjoying Christ’s grace in your life by giving it away to others? Is there a specific act of generous giving that God is calling you to today?
PRAYER: Lord Jesus Christ, how we thank you for your willingness to give up so much to become human. Thank you for your choice to become poor so that we might be rich in you.
You know, Lord, how easy it is for me to receive your blessings, but then hold onto them. Help me to be a person who imitates your act of generous giving. As I have received financial blessings from you, may I share them freely with others. As I have been gifted by your Spirit, may I serve people in your church and in the world. As I have received the outpouring of your love, may I love others in my life: at work, at home, at church, and wherever I might be.
Help me this very day, Lord, to be rich in you by giving away your blessings to others. Amen.
Mark Roberts is the author of eight books, including No Holds Barred: Wrestling with God in Prayer. He lives in Boerne, Texas, with his wife, Linda. Their children spend most of the year away at college on the East Coast. Send a note to Mark.
Best Of 2014
How do you measure a year? Days? Cups of coffee? Celebrations? Goodbyes? In 2014, something we’ve noticed at the High Calling is more and more people engaging with the message that God cares about everything in life—even the most mundane moments.
In the end, we consider 2014 a success if we have served you well, Reader. Some may consider it a strange way to show love: typing on a keyboard and submitting content into the faceless void of the Internet. This is why your actions matter so much to us. When you spend a few minutes reading an article, when you share a video or a Facebook post, we know you were inspired. When you send us a short note, you give us an opportunity to listen to you.
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