Ocean tides are interesting. Some places have two high tides and two low tides per day. Others have just one high and low tide per day. In some cases, the differences between the tides is amazing: an area that is full of water at high tide looks dry and barren at low tide. There is a constant ebb and flow of the tides however and high tide follows low tide which follows high tide. I can’t help but wonder if some of the businesses and some of the people living along the tidal area might wish that the tides could even out a bit. I also think that we should remember the tides as we think about the resources that God has entrusted us with.
You know how some people are – not us of course, but other people. They get a big paycheck and they make all kinds of commitments based on the size of that one large check. Then, the check gets down to normal or goes away. They are stuck with all kinds of bills and not enough income. There is stress and frustration. There are fights and conflicts. Paul reminds us of this ebb and flow when thinking of money and reminds us that we need to find ways to give and support others in those good times knowing that when bad times come, those we have helped will be able to help us. “Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality,” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14)
One of the problems with giving to help others is that for some people they seem to be always giving something, for someone. Even when they do help others, after they give another person is waiting with their hand out. Often, people giving will feel like they are giving more to help others than they are to help their own family. Paul was talking to the Corinthians about a promised gift to help the Jerusalem Church which was experiencing great difficulties. Perhaps the Corinthians were balking at their promised gift. They had chariot payments to make. They had mouths to feed. Why should they help this unknown church? Perhaps they had helped the church previously and they were wondering how many times Paul would ask them to support the Jerusalem Church. Paul reminded them that there was a tide in the affairs of men: now they had plenty and could share, but there would be a time when they would be needy themselves. He called for equality among believers – an equality built on sacrifice for others and the attitude of recognizing that we are all called to help others.
I don’t believe that Paul talked about equality with the idea of telling Christians to get together every week, pool their paychecks, and then give each person an equal amount of money. I think his intent was that everyone was supposed to meet needs of others and have their own needs met. Whatever the word “equality” means in this verse, though, it comes from a relationship with Christ and a concern that the needs of His people are met. It is voluntary in that people decide to take action to care for those in need. It comes about because we recognize that we are all equal in the sight of God and we are called to care for each other. While many of us in America are enjoying great financial blessings because of the freedom we have in our country, the time will come when our financial world will explode. We prepare for that time not by hoarding for ourselves, but by finding ways to give and to help others in their need. True giving is not an act, it’s a way of life.
Lord God, You have blessed me with so many financial blessings. Remind me that You have blessed me so that I may bless others. Help me to stop looking at my own desires and care for the needs of others.