Thursday, November 17, 2011

Bad Economic Times

How are you responding in these times of bad economy?  There are lessons to be learned from the faithful in Macedonia.



Scripture

Now, brethren, we wish to make known to you the grace of God which has been given in the churches of Macedonia,
(2 Corinthians 8:1 NASB)
that in a great ordeal of affliction their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality.
(2 Corinthians 8:2 NASB)

Observation

We may think that we are facing insurmountable obstacles in today's economic times but the world goes through cycles and the Church has faced these days in the past, and has survived. Paul was on his missionary journeys and he traveled through the area of Macedonia. He shared with them the needs of those who were struggling in other areas of the world. They, themselves, were going through a " ordeal of affliction" and "deep poverty."  Things were not just "sort-of" bad, but they were "really" bad. And yet in the midst of their bad economic times they had an abundance of joy and a wealth of liberality. Instead of focusing on their personal difficulties, they had learned to focus their lives on Christ. They were trusting in Him on a daily basis and the result was not that the Lord showered them with money and worldly goods, but rather, that they received God's joy and a freedom to be generous and liberal with whatever they had. They were no longer tied to the things of this world, but had learned to let them loose and give them back to God. What did they do? Out of their poverty, they gave to others whom they deemed more needy than themselves, even in bad economic times!

Application

Day after day we await a hint of news that the economy may be on the upturn. That news doesn't seem to be coming and along the way we wonder what it all means for us personally. We've all been touched, either personally, or by acquaintance, by those who are suffering through lengthy unemployment. We have watched as housing values have fallen and personal equity shrinks. The stock market stumbles and the savings follows along. Giving in the churches has decreased as many struggle to make ends meet. Tithing has become something in which less than 40% of church goers participate. And yet -- could we somehow gain the join and freedom which the church in Macedonia discovered? How is that possible, in difficult economic times?

The answer is to look to Jesus Christ and participate in His holiness. That's what Paul had been preaching and the people "got" it. They chose to spend time in God's holy presence, they brought their burdens and their difficulties to Him, and then they left those burdens with Him. Instead of focusing on what they didn't have, they focused on what they did have, and then gave generously. They were joyful that they were able to help others who were even worse off than they were! The same can be true for us today. We need to stop focusing on what we don't have, and focus on what we do have. Then, we need to join our hearts to His heart and give as generously as possible. Allow God to do the rest. Trust in Him. Will it change the bad economic times? No. Will it change us? Yes.

Prayer

Lord, help us today to focus on all that You have done for us, and give us hearts of generosity to those around us. Amen.

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