Today’s Chocolate: Endangered Species Dark Chocolate with 88% Cocoa
Today’s Passage: 2 Corinthians 9
Well, this is embarrassing. In today’s chapter, Paul continues to talk about charity and financial support for the poor within the church, and on my first pass through the text, I didn’t even notice him quoting from the old testament. It’s in a different type setting and everything, Jackson! Come on! And on my second pass, I noticed it and wondered, “Where is that from? Maybe Isaiah?” Then I looked it up, and it’s from Psalm 112.
I read Psalm 112 exactly three months and two days ago. And while I might not be expected to know which psalm Paul was quoting, I should at least have recognized it as a psalm. Truly, I am like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror, for once I have looked at myself and gone away, I have immediately forgotten what kind of person I was.
Paul quotes the psalm in proximity to a verse that’s probably more familiar to all of us. “Each one must do just as he has purposed in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver” is 2 Corinthians 9:7, but Paul doesn’t stop at urging his readers to give with a good attitude. By pointing them to Psalm 112, he gives them grounds for a good attitude. The psalm’s central theme is that the man who fears the Lord receives blessings from him. Paul specifically quotes verse nine: “He has given freely to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.” At first glance, if you’re not reading carefully (and at this point I glance sheepishly at my feet), you might think the “he” in question is God. But reviewing the verse in the context of the whole psalm reveals: the one giving freely to the poor is the one who fears the Lord, the one whom the Lord has blessed.
God has a plan to give to the world. But while he could give directly to each person, in a strictly top-down model of generosity, he often gives to us so that we can give to each other. Paul notes: “God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed” (8). God doesn’t ask you to give what you don’t have. He provides what you need for yourself and what you need to give for others. And as the first part of the verse notes, he provides the grace needed to give with a good attitude. If he is in fact all-good and all-powerful, he will provide for our needs while simultaneously providing for the needs of our peers through us, where appropriate–and he can provide the ability to give without anxiety or resentment.
If you’re having trouble giving, go to God and see what you can receive from him before you ask what he wants you to give. Go ahead: give it a try.