How we define wealth, defines us
Some words of advice from the apostle Paul
Paul, the apostle whose writings make up much of the New Testament, had something to say about wealth and generosity worth repeating today.
In his second letter to the church in Corinth, we find Paul comparing two faith communities.
Macedonia was a poor region in northern Greece, made up of farmers and blue-collar laborers. Corinth was a harbor city in Achaia, the southern region of Greece. It was a place of commerce and wealth.
In his very direct manner, Paul challenges the church in Corinth to be more like its northern neighbors. Paul said this about the people of Macedonia: “for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part.” (2 Corinthians 8:2)
Consider the phrase, “a wealth of generosity.” Paul is suggesting that in God’s economy, wealth is measured by what we give away.
It’s not about the amount of the gift, but the sacrifice made. Paul is clear that the Macedonians were not just poor, but in “extreme poverty.”
Giving today by self-professing Christians in the U.S. is around 2.8%. That’s a sobering statistic. What might Paul suggest to us if he wrote a letter today to Christians in the United States? Who might the Macedonian Church be if he compared us with other regions of the world?
Giving – rather than accumulating – should be our first response, if we have the mind of Christ. Following this, we might ask: How much is enough for my current and future needs? How much I keep is as much a matter of faith as how much I give.