The Witness of Grace & Generosity
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2 In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3 For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4 they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. 5 And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 6 So we urged Titus, just as he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7 But since you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you[a]—see that you also excel in this grace of giving”.
2 Corinthians 8:1-7 NIV
I am a self-professed news junkie. Usually very little of the daily news broadcast causes me anxiety. However, if I am honest with myself, the news this past week concerning the coronavirus, COVID-19, has affected me!
The onslaught reporting of an imminent global crisis looming large over our daily lives is unsettling. With each new day the growing magnitude of the crisis and its effects on daily life has become overwhelming. I finally had to turn off the news and refocus my thoughts.
In days of ever-increasing uncertainty, we may be tempted to retreat and operate from a perspective of scarcity. In this Lenten season where we refrain from what is natural, necessary, and normal so that we may draw closer to Jesus, I want to encourage us to live not through a lens of scarcity but through a lens of grace and generosity.
God’s grace is evident in our reading for this week. The Macedonian churches were churches faced with severe hardships. Even amid hardship it was God’s grace that enabled them to have joy in the midst of their extreme poverty, to the point of overflowing generosity. They gave from their tangible resources what they had rather than withholding for self-preservation. They lived life with an open hand rather than a closed fist.
The scripture tells us they gave “beyond their ability”. These Macedonian churches went as far as begging for the privilege to serve others. WOW! They were able to live a life of generosity because their priority was to give themselves first to Lord and then to their neighbor.
The future is uncertain and by all reports the next few months are going to be very difficult. If we dare to look through the lens of grace and generosity, we might ask ourselves – is there an opportunity in this global crisis for our Christian witness to be amplified in the earth? Is there an opportunity for us to see this crisis not as a time to be consumed by the frenetic pace of grab, buy, hoard, and keep for self-preservation the things we think we need to live?
What if we see it as a time to fully trust the Lord to provide for all our needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19)? What if its an opportunity to come together as all of humanity who bear the image of God rather than live in the toxic divide of polarizing views?
Could it be possible that the coronavirus, COVID-19, has been allowed to sweep across the world not for its destruction but for its salvation? Generosity is grounded in Grace. The grace that comes from the Lord and we respond to this grace with generosity. May we seize the privilege to serve one another and our communities with generosity out of the grace of God poured out over us.
Rev. Althea C. Taylor, an ordained Elder in the Church of the Nazarene, serves as the Executive Pastor for Bronx Bethany Church of the Nazarene and former Interim Co-lead pastor 2018-2019. Rev. Taylor also serves with several national Christian organizations that seek to enhance the welfare of others and advocate for just practices. A former board member of Christian Community Development Association, CCDA, and a founding member of The Immigration Alliance, she works with others to equip community organizations in building capacity for transforming their communities and serving churches to equip them with providing trusted and affordable legal services for immigrants seeking to assimilate into the United States.