Proverbs 22-24 2 Corinthians 8
“At this time you have plenty. What you have can help others who are in need. Then later, when they have plenty, they can help you when you are in need, and all will be equal.” (2 Corinthians 8:14 NCV)
In Israel, the priests took the collections of the tithes and offerings and used them to help those who were poor among the Jews. Those leading the Temple were given that responsibility to distribute food and help take care of other needs of those who were poor. Then, some of the Jews in Jerusalem started following Jesus. This caused a dilemma for those in charge of caring for the poor among the Jews, especially when family members disowned the followers of Christ. It got harder for followers of Christ to find work. Many of them went through difficult financial times. As a result, Paul and many of the churches prepared an offering to meet the needs of their fellow Christians in Jerusalem who were suffering due to the conditions in the city. As Paul wrote this part of the letter, he reminded the Corinthian Church to be ready with their offering.
From the beginning of the Church, followers of Jesus Christ had to take care of each other. Some who followed Christ lost jobs or were disowned by family members. One of the earliest squabbles recorded in the early church dealt with taking care of widows. One of the hallmarks of the Church in the beginning was that it voluntarily took care of its members. We didn’t rely on others to do our job. When Jesus talked about the last judgment, the criteria mentioned involved taking care of others. We don’t do that so much anymore. Instead, we admire those who have great wealth and claim to follow Christ whether they give to help others or not. Accumulation of wealth becomes a goal instead of finding ways to help others. We ask others, including the government, to take on our responsibilities and care for the poor. Paul reminds us that those who have plenty should be finding ways to share with those in need. Sometimes, the table turns and those who are in need now will have overcome their bad situations and be able to help those who gave to others before. Even if that doesn’t happen, the words that I want to hear from Jesus on this subject are “whatever you did to the least of these, you did unto me.”
Lord, You’ve given me the responsibility to care for others – in fact, You’ve given that responsibility to Your Church. Let each person who claims to follow You find ways to help those in need. Help us to be a caring, loving church in an uncaring world.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.