The Bible Speaks

Follow Christ!
Dec. 30, 2012 @ 05:00 AM

“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” 2 Corinthians 8:9

Many years ago I worked for a bank in South Carolina that participated in the United Way campaign. Each year the bank employees would be assembled into a conference room, treated to a nice lunch, and then a motivational speaker would tell us why we should have a portion of our paycheck deducted into the United Way charities. What I expected to hear was all the hardships and needs that the charitable organizations had and how our monies could help them meet those needs. What I heard instead was how “wonderful I would feel” for giving to the needy and also how I might be one of those “needy” someday and therefore what I was giving today might come back to me tomorrow. It was a powerful pitch, but it was totally self-centered. Give to receive. Bless others so you won’t feel guilty having so much. These were the lines, said and unsaid, that were used to motivate us.

No such motivation exists for the true follower of Jesus Christ. If you are to follow in His footsteps, you are to give for the sole purpose of benefiting others, not yourself. Christ was rich, richer than any other in the entire world, yet He became poor so that you and I might become rich. He gave up everything so that we would have everything. His exemplary follower, the Apostle Paul, did the same. He wrote to the Corinthians in chapter 12 of his second letter: “and I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls…” Paul sacrificed his wealth, his worldly success, his comforts, his popularity, his health and especially his pride, for the benefit of those who had not heard the gospel. He, like Jesus before him, literally gave his life for others. Such is the principle of giving in true Christianity. The Lord’s disciple doesn’t look at how much he can “afford” to give and still have all his creature comforts. He looks at the need and gives all he can to supply it.

Each year at Christmas time there is some of this true spirit of Christ-like giving. There are those who give with no thought to receiving; who see a need and meet a need. There are some who look to give to those who are truly in need and not just to those who already have all they need and then some. The Bible speaks of giving so that others who do not have will receive what they need; of emptying oneself of time, money and energy for the sake of the gospel that alone makes a man rich. Such are true followers of Christ “who, though He was rich, became poor, so that YOU through His poverty might become rich.” Go and become a little poorer this week with only the thought of who you will make rich. Follow Christ!

The Rev. Bruce MacInnes is pastor of Turner’s Chapel.