Pastor Dennis Smith
In 2 Corinthians 8–9 the apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth, which is located in a region known then as Achaia, concerning a project he had undertaken. He was collecting money from churches to provide some financial relief for the saints at Jerusalem who were going through difficult times (see Romans 15:25–26). He speaks of this in 1 Corinthians 16:1–3 also, where we see that the Corinthians were to have a part in the collection. He had enlisted churches in the regions of Galatia and Macedonia in this cause as well. Note that these were primarily Gentile churches, so they were not connected to the saints in Jerusalem by language or culture; they were foreigners to one another. But they were all brothers and sisters in Christ.
There is much we could learn from this passage, and we can only scratch the surface here.
One thing we see is that Paul commended to the Corinthians the willing generosity of the churches of Macedonia (think Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea). Those churches had given joyfully and even beyond their means. They had actually begged Paul to accept their offering for those at Jerusalem. Reading between the lines, we could infer from this that Paul was initially reluctant to accept their offering because of their own humble circumstances. And he attributed the Macedonians’ heart for sacrificial giving to the grace of God that had been bestowed upon them.
I have been personally pleased with what Harvest Baptist Church has been able to do within our community as well as within the church when it comes to providing tangible blessings to people during a challenging time. This ranges from help with paying for necessities, to shopping for groceries, to delivering hundreds of goodie baskets as an act of kindness. While we do not pat ourselves on the back in smug self-satisfaction, I think some who have been recipients of our generosity would indeed brag on Harvest to others. That’s the kind of reputation that helps a church make a gospel impact in the community. Someone has said that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
I have also been impressed by the diligence of our church family in your individual financial support of the church and its ministries. This is in spite of the significant negative impact the coronavirus has had on our economy and the disruptions to our Sunday gatherings. Your faithful giving is right in line with Paul’s point to the Corinthians when he said that he did not intend to burden them simply so that others could be eased, but that instead there could be an equality. To illustrate his point he referred to what God had done among the children of Israel in supplying manna in the wilderness. (In 2 Corinthians 8:15 Paul quotes Exodus 16:18.) There, God had supplied amply each day for everyone, but he also disallowed selfish hoarding by anyone. In that, according to Paul, we have a glimpse into God’s heart and desire for his people.
Stay the course, Harvest.