Freely Shared

Blessed Through His Poorness
2 Corinthians 8:1-9 (KJV)
Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God. Insomuch that we desired Titus, that as he had begun, so he would also finish in you the same grace also. Therefore, as ye abound in every thing, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to us, see that ye abound in this grace also. I speak not by commandment, but by occasion of the forwardness of others, and to prove the sincerity of your love. For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."
9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Two basic spiritual propositions undergird this chapter: 1) we are blessed by Jesus' poorness, and 2) our stewardship should be like Jesus' stewardship. Take notice: "For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich" (v. 9).

A Stewardship Admonition
This is Paul speaking to the church at Corinth and to us. God speaks to us through Paul speaking to the church at Corinth. Paul encourages them to give liberally and generously to the poor home church at Jerusalem based upon the liberal, generous giving of the poor churches in the Macedonia area. A famine had fallen upon Jerusalem and though they were the home, parent church, they were in need of financial support. So Paul makes a visit to Corinth and tells them about the churches in Macedonia. There were some poor churches in Macedonia. They didn't have much to give, but Paul tells us and the church at Corinth that they gave out of their poverty. They joyfully gave out of their poorness. It's almost like an oxymoron that you can give joyfully out of poorness. They gave abundantly out of nothing. Paul says they gave even of themselves. In fact, Paul says, "they begged us to allow them to share in the ministry of the saints." Notice that verse 8 says, "I speak not by commandment." In other words, I'm not talking about the tithe. I speak not about the law, but I'm talking about giving because God has been so good. The poor Macedonian churches gave, and they gave of themselves. They begged to be able to share. They felt that because they had been so blessed, they just had to give. Paul also says that they gave out of sincerity of their love to prove the sincerity of their love. In other words, if we really love Jesus, we can prove the sincerity of our love by giving generously to the work of the Lord. Likewise, God says to us that we can prove the sincerity of our love by the giving of ourselves and by supporting the ministry that God has so blessed us with. Paul tells the church, "I know the ministry here at Corinth; you have a great ministry of utterance. Then he names their ministries and says, 'While you are abounding in all that grace, don't forget also that there is grace in giving'" (v. 7).

We can apply Paul's words to churches today. God is saying to many churches, "I know you have a great Sunday School. I know you have a great music ministry and great worship and a great facility and great

Freely Shared discipleship and all of this. But while you abound in all these graces, don't forget the grace of giving."

A Living Example
Paul says these poor Macedonian churches were so faithful in their giving that they could be used as an example of God's goodness and grace. This says to us that the stewardship of Jesus can become complete in us. We could be so good in our giving, proving the sincerity of our love in the grace of giving that we could be used as an example of the stewardship of Jesus Christ. The poor Macedonian churches were so good in their giving; it prompted Paul to remind the church at Corinth, and us, that we are blessed through His poorness.

For Ye Know (Verse 9)
The word "know" in Greek and Hebrew means more than to understand. Today when we hear the word "know" it means that we understand, but that's not what the Bible is saying. The Bible says the word "know" means that something has taken place intimately. For example, when Mary had a baby and had not known a man. Or when in Abraham's old age he knew Sarah. "Know" biblically means to have an intimate relationship. And so Paul says he's not talking about whether we understand. We've had an intimate relationship with the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. We've experienced Him. We know Him. We've been there. Nobody has to tell us about it. We didn't get it vicariously. We know. We've entered an intimate relationship. We've experienced the grace. We know what God has done. He's entered intimately into our hearts. By grace we know Him.

Blessings on Top of Blessings
We know grace. "Grace" by definition, both biblically and in Webster's Dictionary, means unmerited favor. We did not deserve to be saved. God has not dealt with us according to what we deserve, but He's dealt with us according to grace. But the word "grace" here implies even more than undeserved favor. It implies that God has laid on us blessings on top of blessings. He didn't just bless us one time but He has been blessing us for a long time. Some of us experience intimately the grace of a blessing laid upon us. When we couldn't afford something, God gave it to us anyway. We know that kind of grace. Because of His grace, we have been blessed abundantly, over and over again. As a matter of fact, the Lord is blessing us right now.

How Rich?
How rich was Jesus Christ? I could tell you in biblical terms, but let me declare that Jesus Christ is a trillion times richer than Bill Gates ever will be. Microsoft goes up four points, and Bill Gates makes nearly $1 million in one day. But Jesus Christ is a trillion times richer than Bill Gates ever will be. How rich was Jesus? According to John 1, He possessed the very nature of the fullness of God. According to Jude 1:24-25, He dwelt in the glory of the majesty and the dominion that God had. According to 1 Timothy 6:16, He dwelt in a light that no man could approach in all the splendor and brilliance of the Godhead. According to James 1:17, He possessed every good and perfect thing that could be possessed. According to Revelation 4 and 5, He had all worship and adoration of all heavenly things. Everything in heaven bowed down before Him. Everything! The celestial beings, all the Old Testament characters that He had put in paradise—they all worshiped Him. Abraham, a man of faith, bowed down before Him in heaven. Enoch, who was a friend of God, bowed down in heaven. Ezekiel and Isaiah spent twenty-four hours a day in heaven just bowing down to a holy God, giving Him the highest praise. Twenty-four hours a day the angels gave God highest praise. Jesus received continuous praise twenty-four hours a day, yet He left all of that. He left heaven's throne. He owned everything that could be possessed, but He left it all. For though He was rich, yet He became poor so that ye might be rich.

How Poor?
He became poor. The question might be, "How poor?" Jesus' becoming poor refers to His incarnation. He left all of His glorious riches and became a humble man. The Lord took on flesh and blood. The holy God took the lowliest place. The sovereign Lord became the subject. The beloved became the rejected. The perfect One became the sacrifice for sin. Life became a substitute for death. "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made

Freely Shared himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross" (Philippians 2:5-8 — KJV). He became poor. He didn't have to become poor. He volunteered to become poor. He could have stayed on the heavenly throne, but He became poor. He left His riches and throne to be born poor in a manger. He was born from the womb of a poor peasant girl. He was raised in a poor family of a poor carpenter. He lived a life of poorness. "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay His head" (Luke 9:58 — KJV). He died a poor, criminal death and was buried in a borrowed tomb. He was born a poor man, lived as a poor man, and died a poor man. Although He died poor, He arose rich with all power in His hands. He said those who receive Him can become sons and daughters. Our Father is rich. The earth and the fullness thereof belong to Him. Our Father owns all the cattle on the hills. He's rich in omniscience, omnipotence, and omnipresence. He knows all, has all power, and is everywhere at all times. We became rich in His poorness, but we remain rich in His richness. We are rich in salvation. We are rich in sanctification. We are rich in justification. We are rich in holiness. We are rich in power. We are rich in love. We are rich in mercy, in peace, in joy. Because He died, He became poor for our sakes and through His poverty we became rich, but He arose and because He arose, we remain rich.

God admonishes us and the Corinthians to take notice and model the Macedonian church in giving. The Macedonian church was poor, yet gave generously. Likewise, Christ became poor for our sakes so we might have riches. By knowing the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we are blessed through His poorness (poverty). Because of our intimate relationship with Christ, we experience (know) His grace, we are blessed abundantly—equivalent to having blessings on top of blessings. God was not just rich, but God was very, very rich. Yet, He became very, very poor that we might have all that He owns. He died in poorness but was raised in glory, and because He arose, not only are we blessed, but we remain blessed.