28 September 2007

2 Corinthians 8:1-9

"For during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part." (v.2)


In this book, Paul talks at great length about giving money to support the work of early Church.

We can feel rather afraid of talking about money, it makes many people uncomfortable. Paul was writing to the Church in Corinth, now in Greece, and he was telling them about how generous another, less wealthy church in Macedonia, north of Corinth, had been.

It is not just in Biblical times that the poor show the rich how to give generously.

A group of Christians in Peru who live in great poverty, some with homes without roofs, ensure that when they are welcoming people to church they are wearing a smart uniform. When asked about this by European travellers, they said they want to make their best efforts for the work of God.

An analysis of the giving of a wealthy suburban church in Manchester and a neighbouring council estate showed that members at the poorer church gave proportionately much more in their collection plates than the wealthy church.

God doesn't want any of humanity to be hungry, thirsty or without shelter. The Bible does not celebrate poverty, indeed it condemns the rich for not sharing their wealth. In some ways it is shameful that as a rich nation, we have to learn about giving generously from the poor.

Giving of all that we have is an important part of Christian witness, and sharing our wealth is important. If all Christians gave as generously as the early Church in Macedonia, or the church on the South Manchester Council estate then could we eliminate hunger?

To Ponder

To paraphrase Martin Luther, there are three types of conversion - the head, the heart and the wallet. Do you find giving to support the Church challenging? In what ways?

How is the giving of money linked to the theme this week of oppression and justice?

Bible notes author

Alison Parker

Alison Parker worked as the Equalities and Diversity Project Officer for the Methodist Church. She worked to bring together a theology of equalities and diversity, an equal opportunities policy for the Methodist Church, and a resource for local churches to use to support us as we celebrate diversity and seek equality.