May 5, Friday

The AMI QT Devotionals from May 1-6 are provided by Pastor Charles Choe of Tapestry Church, Los Angeles.  Charles, a graduate of UC Riverside and Fuller Theological Seminary (M.Div.), is married to Grace, and they have three children: Chloe, Noah, and Camden.

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS FOR TODAY

2 Corinthians 8:8-15

“Your abundance at the present time should supply their need, so that their abundance may supply your need, that there may be fairness.” (verse 14)

As a father of three children, I am no stranger to my kids arguing and fighting over fairness. In fact, with the older two, there is no greater injustice than a smaller piece of cake, one less scoop of ice cream, or one of them going to sleep ten minutes later.  It must be exactly the same—  always even steven.

Fairness is an important concept to us. Here, in our passage today, Paul reminds the Corinthians why they were collecting money: to help fellow brothers and sisters who were struggling through a famine in Judea. It was not so that the Judean churches could experience relief to the detriment of the Corinthian church, but rather that there should be a proper balance between them. Paul insinuates that there will be a time when the tables will be turned and they may be the ones needing the aid.

As part of Paul’s argument, he invokes a concrete and historical example. In verse 15, Paul reminds the Corinthians of the time in Israel’s history when God sustained His people in the desert with the manna (Exodus 16). Though some collected much and others relatively little, when the daily portion was distributed, no one had either too little or too much.

The principle that the wealthy should give to the poor is a challenge to the modern listener. It violates one of our most sacred beliefs—the principle of self-reliance. Paul is not talking about the need for a stronger work ethic, nor is he making a case for socialism over capitalism. He does not want anyone to give out of compulsion, as he says, “I do not say this as a command” (2 Cor. 8:8).

Paul is simply talking about helping hurting people. He explains that we need to be generous, primarily because God was generous with us: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). This could only make sense if we heed Paul, who says, Christians are “slaves for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 5:4). If this is true, it means that everything we own belongs to God. And that we must remain open to sharing with those in need, even if it means less for us to spend on ourselves. In the end, it is only “fair” to share with others in need in light of the sacrifice Jesus made for us. May that be your motivation for your generosity—the gospel!

Prayer: God, teach me to be generous as You were to me. Increase my capacity to give, both of money and time to those who are in need. Give me a greater understanding of the gospel, what You did on the cross on my behalf, so that giving to those who are hurting becomes an increasingly joyful action. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Colossians 1


LUNCH BREAK STUDY

Read Exodus 36:1-7: “Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.”  2 And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.

3 And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 

4 so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing,  5 and said to Moses, “The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.” 6 So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, “Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary.” So the people were restrained from bringing, 

7 for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.

Questions to Consider

  1. Besides doing the work people are gifted in, what is the other theme that emerges from this story?
  2. This passage describes the time during the construction of the very first sanctuary for the people of Israel—a special moment for God’s people. What kind of offering was given to build the sanctuary?
  3. Have you given generously to building God’s church?

Notes

  1. Generous people give more than they are asked to give.
  2. According to verse 3, it was a “freewill offering”—meaning, there was no compulsion, but a sense of joy and privilege that accompanied the giving.
  3. Personal response.

EVENING REFLECTION

“God bestows His blessings without discrimination. The followers of Jesus are children of God, and they should manifest the family likeness by doing good to all, even to those who deserve the opposite.” – F.F. Bruce

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