Today is the first day of the Advent season. This is the season leading up to Christmas when we look forward to the coming of the Christ child into the world.
This year my church put together an Advent devotional and I was asked to contribute two entries. I previously shared on of my contributions, and I decided for the start of Advent to share the other. The scripture readings this devotional article is based on were chosen by our pastor. I encourage you to click on the links to read them before reading my thoughts on how they are connected.
The prophet Amos warned those who had plenty but failed to care for those in need. Though they enjoyed the lap of luxury, they would “be among the first to go into exile” because of their complacency.
By contrast, Paul writes of the Macedonian church that lived in extreme poverty and yet exhibited a generosity towards others that was beyond their own ability to give. He then urges the Corinthian church (and each of us), “as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.”
It is easy when we are blessed with material possessions to spend all our time enjoying them and forget about those in extreme need. Perhaps the reason the Macedonians were so generous is because they never forgot what it was like to be in physical need and had compassion on those in similar circumstances. As a result they were blessed with spiritual wealth and the grace of our Lord.
God is honored by our desire to give and to help those in need; He is honored even more by the fulfillment of that desire. He does not expect us to give beyond our ability, but to give out of the grace we have known in Christ. The spiritual wealth we gain through a closer walk with Jesus and sharing with others is better than all the gold and jewels in all the earth.
Thought to ponder/challenge
We must guard ourselves that we not allow wealth and material possessions to be our comfort, forgetting those in poverty. We must remember to always give out of the grace we have been freely given.
Our gracious Lord Jesus, help us to not grow complacent because of the wealth you have blessed us with, but well up within us a desire to be generous and share your material and spiritual gifts with those in need.