BENEVOLENCED BENEVOLENCE - LIVING THE LIFE OF FAITH GENEROUSLY!
The Christian life was meant to be lived with faith toward God and fervent love toward our neighbor, and to do so generously. Paul reminds the Corinthians that such a way of life begins with the awesome realization that God loved us generously by sending His Son to die for us so that we might live (see verse 9; also 2nd Corinthians 9:15). God’s merciful, gracious benevolence motivates, empowers, and directs the lives of believers to benevolence for others who are in need as a reflection of God’s love. In this passage St. Paul challenges believers to help others as a way of expressing their faith in God. It’s a powerful witness when Christians love one another as they are loved by God, when they forgive one another as they are forgiven by God, when they speak God’s truth in love as they have been blessed by that same Word, and when they are also willing to use the material gifts that God has given them in service to the needs of others. A generous God calls forth a people who will share His super-abundant grace generously. Paul says it another way in Romans 12:1, “In view of God’s mercy, present your bodies as living sacrifices.” What a way to live. What a way to love and to be loved.
That’s why it is so sad to hear people misunderstand or caricature today’s passage as merely a religious obligation, or, worse, some public policy for a new government program. This isn’t about doing religious works to appease God or to satisfy oneself. This isn’t a coercive demand for equity as some human solution to the myriad of problems in our world. This is living life abundantly as believers in response to God’s grace and mercy. Paul isn’t demanding obedience here. He’s inviting believers freely to be gracious to others in view of the mercy that they themselves have first received. He calls for reciprocity, sharing one another’s burdens, because God’s gift of love in Christ seeks to love others in His name. The very vocations in which God has placed us are opportunities to live the “benevolenced life” for others.
In a world where people seek abundance and fulfillment for their own lives on their terms alone, such outcomes often elude them because of sinfulness. In a world where people strive for purpose and meaning in their work, in their position, and even in their benevolence, one’s selfishness can even undermine one’s efforts at selflessness. No amount of wealth and technology, no human program or system, and not even our best efforts can accomplish what God wants to do with our lives as a reflection of His grace. Remember today, that you are loved abundantly by God in Christ in spite of your sin and brokenness, and that the gracious life of faith is yours to live on His terms, with His resources, and for His purposes. Be amazed that God has an abundant life for you to live, generously, to those whom He brings into your life right now. What a way to live!
PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, help me to see that a life of generosity is rooted in Your benevolence and mercy to me, and to all. Then let the gifts You give me become opportunities for me to show Your love to others so that Your generosity becomes not just something we receive, but constantly share, striving to live for others as You live for us. AMEN.