2 Corinthians 8:9, Romans 15:25-26
As you know, the Coronavirus is resulting in economic hardship for many people. What is the role of the church in helping those in need? And more specifically, Christ Church Pinetown?
Before addressing the details, we need to remember that the gospel – the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ – motivates Christian generosity. In 2 Corinthians 8:9, Paul does not berate the Corinthians to give more. No, he reminds the Corinthians of the gospel to motivate generosity. “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.” This verse often gets taken out of context. God the Son came from heaven to become a human – born in an animal feeding box, ministering with “no place to lay his head” (Luke 9:58) to die a criminal’s death on the cross for all who believe, so that through faith in Him, we might inherit everything that Jesus, the eternal Son of God deserves. Amazing grace – that is what motivates our generosity!
How should gospel-motivated gifts be allocated during this time? Romans 15:25-26 is instructive. The Apostle Paul is writing to the church in Rome to strengthen their partnership (money, prayers, practical help) in the Gospel. Paul wants to take the Gospel to Spain but he plans to take a rather indirect route – through Jerusalem. The reason for this detour? To help poor believers – i.e. “the saints” in Jerusalem, some of whom are suffering economically, probably due to a famine. “At present, however I am going to Jerusalem to bring aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia [churches in those Gentile regions] have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem” (Romans 15:25-26). If you know Romans, you know that Paul has a theological reason (15:27) for helping Jewish believers. The Gospel, which has Jewish roots (Romans 11), unites believing Jew and believing Gentile together. But these verses – along with 1 John 3:17, Galatians 6:10, Acts 4:34-35 and others – also teach us that we ought to prioritize giving to needy believers during times of crisis. Such generosity extends across cultures and across borders.
Wouldn’t it be great if God gave CCP the grace to give so generously that we were not only able to provide food parcels for those in need in our church but that our generosity overflowed to provide for our brothers and sisters in Christ at St. Stephen’s Clermont? May God help us give generously and may he bless all of us who, out of love for Jesus, give generously!