During this season of Advent, we will be taking a break from our study in the Book of Mark and will instead offer daily devotionals for you to read aloud with your family, pertaining to this Advent season. We will resume our study of Mark in a few weeks.
The Generosity of Joy
“. . . their abundance of joy . . .” 2 Corinthians 8:2
It’s alright, we are all going through it. The New Testament basis for joy is never freedom from outward difficulty. It is the faith God supplies in our hardships that brings joy. Joy is not a mere emotion, joy can only be seen in contrast – struggle and success, conflict and comfort, affliction and joy, wealth and poverty.
Here in our text the Macedonia Christians had been going through a testing time of affliction. They had endured great mistreatment from non-believers. The suffering they had undergone for Christ had set flowing in them a fountain of joy. Through their trials, they had discovered God’s love and power. The joy of God’s presence had released them from the love of money.
Money tends to harden the heart, it dries up sympathy, and it can create anxiety about security. It can even give some amnesia causing some to forget the source of their supply. A famous preacher once said, “Whenever I have money, I get rid of it as soon as possible, lest it should find a way into my heart.”
A proper perspective of provision is a key to having a generous spirit. Sometimes faith has to encounter hardships to reveal the hidden treasure of sacrificial giving. The poverty of the Macedonia church had awakened generosity towards others. Because of their own need, they were aware of the needs of others. It was no longer about position and comfort, but meeting other’s needs that mattered.
The joy of Christ coming to a people who had experienced poverty had overflowed in generosity. “Their abundance of joy” is more than a phrase or a discretion of giving, it describes real wealth which never consists of what one has, but rather, in the love we show.
Generosity is not determined by the amount of money given, but by the inner state of the heart. Sometimes great sums are given grudgingly, while others have little to give, but give liberally. A person is rich or poor according to the width of their sympathy and the depth of their love.
During this season of Advent and Christmas determine to worship Jesus. Spend less. And give more.