2 Cor. 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
2Cor.8:1-9 We are to further demonstrate God’s grace in our giving to those in need, both of ourselves and our material goods. It is important to tithe your money and other material goods to be generous to others and your church because everything you have and everything you are came from God. In essence it all belongs to Him already, you are the caretaker of it for God. Therefore, when you use these things which include your talents, you need to use them for God’s purposes and in obedience to Him. That is a responsibility you have to God. Living in obedience to God’s will means that no matter what our living conditions wealthy or moderate, or poor we are to honor God’s grace by being generous to the best of our ability in caring for others.
Read Mark 12:41-44, The story of the widow’s mite, and also read Acts 6:1-7 The story of how the disciples established a policy or group of trustees to take care of a group of widows who were being over looked.
The wealth of Jesus talked about in 2 Corinthians that he gave up for us is not earthly wealth. Traditionally, we understand that Jesus was not wealthy on earth. So the wealth that he gave up for our sakes is the wealth of heaven. Imagine knowing and living in heaven and purposely giving up that place to come down to earth and show us personally who God is to us and for us so that we can have a personal relationship with our Father in Heaven?!!
When you put that act beside whatever we can possibly give up here on earth it pales in comparison, doesn’t it?!! I mean,there is not another person walking the earth now or in the past, other than Jesus who has ever experienced the wealth of heaven. We experience a little bit of heaven on earth now and then whenever we have moments of extraordinary happiness and contentment. Or when we have personal “God moments” aka “aha! so this is what God is like!” moments. For instance, when we watch our children being born, or some other miracle of life. When I was sitting in church today, I heard this wonderful, yet very sad story of two brothers in a poor family. It really struck me that it really goes along with the idea of generosity and God’s grace. So I will share it with you.
I don’t know if the story is true. I couldn’t find support for it, but it is still a wonderful story and a good illustration. The setting is the 1500’s. There was once a father of about 18 children who worked about 18 hours a day to support his children at whatever job he could find. He didn’t turn down anything no matter how demeaning the job. Two of his sons were very gifted artistically and wanted to go to train to be an artist. However, the boys knew that their father would never be able to afford to send them. Lying in bed one night the boys decided to flip a coin, and the winner of the toss would go get the training and the loser would get a job and support the brother who won in getting their training. The brother who won was named Albrecht. He went for training and his brother went to work in a mine. The training time went on, and Albrecht finished his training and flourished in the art world…now in Hollywood’s version this is where he would forget all about his brother and just live the high life, right?! In this case, Albrecht went back home and they had a big family dinner to celebrate his success. Finally Albrecht stood and made a toast to his brother, and announced that now it was his turn to support his brother while he went to get his artistic training. The brother, sat in his seat with tears running down cheeks and said quietly, that “no, I cannot go for training, it is too late for me. The years I have worked in the mine have given me broken fingers and broken hands, and now I can no longer do the delicate work with the brush or pen that I once was able to do.”
When I heard this very emotional story, I thought to myself, “Wow! Now there is sacrificial giving!” The brother who stayed behind probably knew fairly shortly after he started working that his artistic prospects were never going to happen. He would have been well understood by the world’s standards to have written his brother and said, “Hey! I can’t do this because if I do then I won’t get my chance ever. My hands will be ruined!” However, the brother who worked kept his word at great cost to himself. He must have realized that if he didn’t hold up his end of the bargain then neither of them would have their dream fulfilled. That would have been even sadder. At least this way his brother could get a chance at success, and he could enjoy that success along with him in spirit.
The story concludes that Albrecht drew this very famous picture using his brother’s hands as a model in honor of his brother’s sacrifice for him. The artist’s name was Albrecht Durer.
When we read the story of the Widow’s mite in the Bible it is a story of sacrificial giving, and I thought that this story also (whether true or not for this particular artist it is true of someone somewhere) was a good example of another kind of sacrificial giving, the giving of oneself for another.