Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-15. What stood out to you in this reading of the text?
top of page
To see this working, head to your live site.
December 9, 2021 "The Gift of Grace"
December 9, 2021 "The Gift of Grace"
bottom of page
I read these powerful words from a sermon by Paul Tillich many years ago. I remember they left me overwhelmed with tears at the time, but very grateful. They have always had a lot of meaning for me.
Posted March 21st, 2010
You guys are pretty funny today! 😄
Meanwhile, back in Corinth…
Church members filled out their pledge card commitment.
The Financial Secretary sharpened his ledger equipment.
The Treasurer reviewed the Greek tax report
And established a conduit for “Jerusalem Support”.
My thoughts jumped in many directions in response to this reading. It focuses on several different gifting situations since "Gift-giving is entwined with the Christmas season." For me, this devotional entry got deeper and deeper, and so did my thoughts!
In the Bible verses for this entry, the Apostle Paul seems concerned in verses 4 and 5 that this wonderful gift he's been telling others about might not be forthcoming, and that could be embarrassing for him and for others. He follows that with comments about the need for people to contribute that with which they feel comfortable. His approach seems a little passive-aggressive to me: I promised you'd have this, and I'll be embarrassed if you don't. Give only what you're comfortable with, but God loves a cheerful giver. If you sow sparingly, you reap only sparingly. Paul sounds to me like he's trying to "guilt" the Corinthians into doing the right thing about contributing to this promised gift.
The devotional book refers to the "wildly precious yet impractical" gifts the wise men brought to Jesus. I have seen funny cartoons that suggest gifts from three wise women would have been more practical:
However, I've always thought there must have been a practical use for those expensive gifts from the wise men. I don't ever remember learning about what happened to the expensive gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Does anyone know? Did those items help pay for food and shelter when the Holy Family fled to Egypt? Or did the Wise Men arrive after the family returned from Egypt? (I've heard that all those Christmas card pictures of the wise men at the stable are inaccurate.)
I have seen other cartoons that suggest wise women would have also asked directions. However, the wise men did ask directions: Matthew 2:2 tells us they said, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? . . ." Then Herod called them in, and, as a result, Herod had many children killed. What a horrific outcome! My theory is that this is why, to this day, men are hesitant to ask for directions.
One thing is for certain, though--the wise men gave freely from their hearts. They did not need any external nudging like Paul thought the Corinthians did.
The devotional author moves on to discuss the gift of Christ, first, in giving up His place with God to become a servant here with humankind and, lastly, making the sacrifice of death on the cross. Wow! The author had previously mentioned gold as "wildly precious," but Christ's gift of Himself is far greater than any worldly wealth! Other than the prayer in Gethsemane, there are no other hesitations I have ever heard of in reference to these gifts. It's a bit difficult to imagine the depth of that love for us!
As I said at the start of my response, my thoughts jumped all over the place as I read this entry: Christmas, gifts from the wise men, gifts from the Corinthians, gifts from Christ. All of these are rather familiar themes, even to the point of including some humor. However, the last line of the prayer at the end of the devotional really hit me hard. "Grace-giving God, thank you for the many indescribable gifts you lavish on us. Transform our gratitude into acts of service. Amen." Service--that term really captured my attention. In the holiday season, there is so much focus on giving and getting gifts, but service means I should be putting those gifts into action for others. To me, that seems like a BIG idea that was tucked into the devotional right at the end. I was primed for presents, not homework! But that line about service puts a whole different spin on all of the other gift examples, doesn't it? With Christ as our ultimate example, service is where our gifts always should be directed, isn't it?
And that insight is the author's gift to me this day! Thank you, Angela Finet!