Spiritual maturity always includes financial generosity. It has to. For the reason Paul points out in 2 Corinthians 8:9 (ESV): For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”
Paul’s argument for Corinthian generosity is Christo-centric. For you know… if you are a Christian, you know this story. Christ, though he was rich. Pre-existent Christ, pre-Incarnation, pre-Christmas was God in eternity past. What was his experience as God? Paul says, he was rich. How rich is God? It’s almost a silly question because we’re asking a material question of a spiritual being. He is God. “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it.” (Psalm 19:1, NIV) The nuance here is that “rich” when applied to Christ is less about his net worth and more about the richness of his experience as God. His fullness. His glory. His greatness. In eternity past, these were his in infinite supply.
Yet in spite of this infinitely joyous eternal experience, “yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich.” The richest became the poorest. Poverty is a reference to the impoverishment of his experience as a human on earth (when compared to his heavenly experience) – highlighted, of course, by his sufferings for us on the cross.
Has there ever been a more extravagant gift than what Christ gave? Never. And to think who he did it for, “yet for your sake he became poor.” He did this for us and our salvation. To give us the experience that was his before he came. He gives us eternal life and eternal bliss. As the old song says, He gave his life – what more could he give?…O how he loves you and me! (“O How He Loves You and Me!” – Kurt Kaiser) So Paul’s whole argument for why the Corinthians should be generous to Christ is built on Christ’s generosity to us.
The reason there is no spiritual maturity without generosity is that a spiritually mature person embraces the gospel of Christ’s self-giving and trembles at it. With the immature there is little trembling at Christ’s humiliation and so there is no compulsion to follow his example; and since his example is tremendous generosity, the spiritually immature won’t follow suit. Not yet. Not till they mature.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Additional Scripture quotations taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version where indicated. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.
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