The Shield of Faith

Robin WilliamsonPosted on Tuesday, October 15, 2013 by Robin Williamson

2 Corinthians 8:1-13

Jesus gave up so much for us – what are we willing to give to Him?

When I opened our post on Friday afternoon, the majority of it was from charities pleading for donations.

BBC Radio 4 each week on a Sunday morning, while I’m getting dressed has an appeal which often pulls at the heartstrings, and then our church encourages us to give regularly, and missionary societies are crying out for funds.

It may be that we seem to have insufficient income anyway to go round. Many have debts to pay off and some these days have to rely on food parcels. All this may make us want to run away and hide – or at least make us depressed.

However today we read a verse in the passage from 2 Corinthians 8 verse 9 – which in the ‘Message’ version reads:

“Rich as Jesus was, he gave it all away for us – in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.”

And in Philippians 2:5-8, Paul writes,

“Christ Jesus had equal status with God, but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead he lived a selfless obedient life, and then died a selfless obedient death – and the worst kind of death at that – a crucifixion.”

Jesus gave up heaven for us – he laid down his life, and suffered that dreadful death for us, in order that we could receive abundant life – meaningful real life now with the Holy Spirit living in us – and eternal life with Him in heaven.

We believe – and I’m sure we do – that if Jesus gave up the glory and dare I say, the comfort and joy of Heaven where He was in intimate unity and relationship with the Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit – if He gave all that up for our sakes, surely we – as His friends and followers ought to be willing to make some sacrifices for Him and one another?

I appreciate that it is hard for us to realise what Heaven is like – the colour, the praise, the music, yet the peace – and with angels dancing all around.

The Lord Jesus was willing to be obedient to the Father’s will and gave that up for a time, for us.

Are we willing to give up something we treasure for Him?

We are currently experiencing a period of economic depression in this and many other countries. Swings on the stock exchange send market roundabouts spinning across the world. We have grown up to sort of expect a continual higher standard of living – and the possible adjustment we may have to make towards slightly more basic standard of living is hard to accept – and can at least tempt us to be more wary perhaps of sharing what we have.

Yet looking at this passage from 2 Corinthians, we can draw out some helpful principles:

  • We are to be generous (v3)

    “They gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability.”

  • Giving and sharing is a privilege (v4)

    “They urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.”

  • Jesus set us the example (v9)

    “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes became poor, so that you through your poverty might become rich.”

  • Our giving should be based on, and proportional to our means (v12)

    “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what he does not have.”

Vijay Mennon – a strict Hindu, and financier in the city of London – living well, with a big mortgage. Became a Christian, realised that he wanted to give back a proportion of his income to the Lord for his goodness to Him. Yet he had no surplus income.

He prayed and promised to God that as soon as he had a pay rise, he would give it back to God. The next day he was called unexpectantly to his boss’s office and told that he was due a pay rise – of the amount he had promised to give to God!

Some are in debt already – yet become Christians and coerced to give a 10th of their income to God. I believe we give from what we have – not according to what we haven’t!

We have to be careful. It can be all too easy in all this to look at what others are doing and be critical of them – or jealous. Jesus is recorded as saying in Luke 6:37-38:

“Do not judge – and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned. Forgive and you will be forgiven. Give and it will be given to you – good measure pressed down, shaken together and running over will be pressed into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

What we believe we should give to God is a private thing between us and God.

A key verse in our reading from Corinthians when talking about the generosity of the Macedonian Christians towards the poor struggling new Christians in Jerusalem, (who were treated now as outcasts from their fellow Jews, and barred from the Jewish ceremonies and the temple) is in verse 5:

“And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord, and then to us in keeping with God’s will.”

So in conclusion I ask, do we need to give ourselves afresh to the Lord Jesus?

In a sense, to ask Him for a renewal of our faith, and joy in the Holy Spirit so that we are sure in our bones – against all odds that,

“Our Lord will supply all our needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:19)

So that without fear, we can know our futures are secure in God and we can therefore safely give of ourselves and some of what we have to God and to others.

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