Friday, July 01, 2011

Convo with Pastor - 2 Corinthians 9:11 - Goodness

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace,
patience, kindness, GENEROSITY,
faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Galatians 5:22-23 
You will be made rich in every way
so that you can be generous on every occasion.
And when we take your gifts to those who need them,
they will break out in thanksgiving to God.
2 Corinthians 9:11
When I learned the fruits of the Spirit, "goodness" was the sixth fruit. And many translations render the Greek word "agathosunae" in this way. My New Revised Standard, however, translates it as "generosity."
In that vein, I love the 2 Corinthians 9:11 sense that we "will be made rich in every way so that ..." Let's consider the three main parts of this phrase.
  • "Rich"? When talking about wealth, our temptation is to say that "some of us are rich financially." But let's be more accurate ... Any of us Americans who can afford the computer we're reading this on are rich by the world's standards! Therefore, rather than worrying about what you don't have -- see Matthew 6 -- give thanks for what you do have.
  • "Rich in Every Way" assures us that there are other kinds of riches too. For example, Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-20, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal; rather store up for yourselves treasures in heaven." Therefore, what are the heavenly treasures and spiritual blessings that you do have?
  • "So that" implies that there's a kingdom purpose for every treasure that we do have. What are the richest blessings that God has given you? Scripture calls us to turn around and bless others with all our gifts and treasures. We are "rich so that [we] can be generous."
Our basic human nature drives us to be selfish. Do you doubt that? Look at a two-year-old. Stubborness and hoarding come naturally; parents have to consistently teach the greater virtues of sharing and generosity. We desire certain comforts, want to keep up with the Jones', worry about funding tomorrow and stockpile out of fear. Therefore, pure generosity is a supernatural gift -- a fruit of the Spirit. 
But ... when we surpise a fallen world with a supersized heart, the kingdom grows! 
Paul described the fruit of sharing generously like this: "When we take your gifts to those who need them, they will break out in thanksgiving to God."
Thanksgiving to who? Be generous and see if this broken world doesn't break out a little more in thanksgiving to God.
In Christ's Love,
a guy who's been very blessed
and its for a specific purpose ...
we're all blessed to be a blessing!  
Yes - we are rich in America. Materially rich.
But how rich are we spiritually? And how willing are we to share those gifts with the world?

Lately, I have been woken up in the middle of the night and felt God telling me to count my blessings. All of them.  Not just the bog ones or the obvious ones, but all of them. Even the not so pleasant ones. All my blessings.

And you know what? I have been blessed. More than I can count. In ways I can barely see. Now I need to learn how to take these blessings and turn them into generous gifts for others.

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