2 Corinthians 8:9 NASB: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.”
The line, which began forming several days before, stretched for several blocks. When the doors finally opened, people pushed and shoved one another and fights broke out in several locations. Why? So that they could be the first to own a PlayStation 3, or perhaps resell it on EBay for a vastly inflated price.
As I recently listened to a sermon on 2 Corinthians 8:9, I couldn’t help but think of the contrast between our desire to possess more and our Lord’s willingness to become poor for our sake.
The word “poor” means to be “poor as a beggar, to become indigent and destitute.”
He who enjoyed the richness of the presence of His Father and the joy of the full use of His divine attributes, laid it all aside and became, by contrast, incredibly poor. According to Hodge, “He so far laid aside the glory of his divine majesty, that he was to all appearance a man, and even a servant, so that men refused to recognize him as God, but despised, persecuted, and at last crucified him, as a man.”
This season reminds us of His willingness to become poor, as we consider the truly humble circumstances of His birth. He who deserved to be lavished with all the attention and care humanity could muster was instead forced to enter this world in a cattle stall. Yet, not really forced, but instead choosing to relinquish all rights and privileges He was entitled to enjoy. Why would He become so poor, doing something so contrary to our grasping for more? Paul makes it clear that it was for our sake. Motivated solely by His grace, He wished that you and I might become rich.
The word “rich” means “abounding, abundantly supplied.” He wished for us not to be rich in material things but rich in our reconciliation with God and our position in Him. He desired that we might experience His true riches, so He laid them aside, came to the poorest of countries, was born as the poorest of poor, and eventually was hung on a cross, all for our benefit and the glory of His Father. Now, once again, He is rich in His glory and we are rich in Him if we have placed our faith in Him.
Of course, that passage of Scripture is in the context of an appeal by Paul to the Corinthians to give to a collection for the saints in Jerusalem. He mentions the Macedonians who not only gave but also gave “beyond their ability” (2 Cor. 8:3) and further “first gave themselves to the Lord” (2 Cor. 8:5).
Paul challenges the Corinthians to give in the spirit of the Macedonians and to give ever mindful of the supreme giving of our Lord Jesus Christ. When I read Paul’s description of the Macedonians, I think of the Village Missionaries who serve so faithfully, many in very small, rural communities. They have given themselves to the Lord and have served faithfully and with supreme dedication to the cause of Christ. They could have chosen a life of ease and comfort but instead chose to become a part of a ministry that often sends its missionaries to unremembered, out-of-the-way places.
I also think of the financial partners that have chosen to invest your resources in this ministry. Just as Paul commended the Macedonians, I commend you for your willingness to do so. I am deeply grateful for the privilege of having you as a partner in this ministry. Thank you so much for your giving to Village Missions that ensures that communities across this country and Canada will learn of the Christ of Christmas and the Christ of Calvary! My prayer this Christmas is that we all may know in a deeper, richer way the true riches we have in Christ and know what it took to have them.
May we be willing, if necessary, to surrender false riches so that others may find true riches in Christ.