[They are] filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity (v.2).
Among the poor, I’ve often encountered extravagant generosity. In the Amazon jungle, locals stretched their meager resources to provide me with daily meals. One evening they prepared fresh monkey stew and though it was not something I cared to eat, it was a costly delicacy for them. Within the slums of Mexico or Indonesia, you’ll often discover individuals who, because they have so little to horde and protect, exhibit the grace of generosity.
God’s people, from Old Testament to New, have always given money as an act of worship to God and as a way of tangible participation in the joy of seeing God’s kingdom established on earth. In the Bible, God has much to say about money—mentioning money (or possessions) 2,172 times. God talks about what we own three times more than love and seven times more than prayer.
It’s not as though our money and possessions are more important than those other matters, but how we use them serves as a reflection of our entire lives. We might say we love God and neighbor, or we might say that we pray to Christ as Lord; but if our possessions have a stranglehold on our affections, then our words are hollow.
Richard Halverson says, “Jesus Christ said more about money than about any other single thing because, when it comes to a person’s real nature, money is of first importance. Money is an exact index to a person’s true character. All through Scripture there is an intimate correlation between the development of a person’s character and how he handles his money.”
Paul reminded the Corinthians that generosity comes from a life lived in the way of Jesus, who, “though He was rich, yet for [our] sakes He became poor, so that by His poverty He could make [us] rich” (2 Corinthians 2:9).
Read Matthew 6:21. What’s the connection between our money and the state of our heart? Why do you think this connection exists?
Where do you tend to be greedy, to grasp firmly your money and whatever you own? Where do you need to let your money go?