The Accent Of Holiness
This whole reading is about generosity, as Paul is recruiting an offering for the Macedonians. But from it we can extract principles important to Paul for Salvation Life. And the posture and experience of verse 8 is a great encouragement: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Amongst those good works? Evangelism.
Why? Well, what are the good works of followers of Jesus Christ? They include evangelism and discipleship, compassion and service, justice and mercy. But, evangelism, yes.
Are we shoe-horning a generosity text into an evangelism reading plan? I mean, there is a promise of righteousness that endures forever (verse 9). And there is a promise of practical provision of food for the hungry people (verse 12). And we praise God for the overflowing expressions of thanks (verse 12).
This epitomizes the ‘abundant life’ that Jesus came to provide all of us and it is offered in the context of salvation! “I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10). Jesus’ mission is evangelistic – that we may have life, life eternal. And have it abundantly – holiness, fullness.
Our life with Jesus Christ includes salvation, and, ideally, sanctification. That filling by Holy Spirit is ‘abundance’. If faith is the language of Christianity, and love its dialect, and if compassion is the vocabulary of holiness, then generosity is it accent. Just as a person’s accent is a pretty good indicator of where they live or where their lives have been shaped when it comes to geography, so it is with spirituality. Our accent of generosity gives us away. When we are filled (to overflow!) with the Holy Spirit, our lives are characterized by generosity.
But is that the only connection?
No. Look at verses 2 Corinthians 9:13,14 NIV: “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given us.”
Do you see that the generous service accompanies our confession of the gospel of Christ? The two go hand in hand. The generosity is not just sharing things with them, but also the Gospel.
And the results? “In their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given us.”