Poor Beggars

According to Paul in 2 Corinthians 8, the Macedonians were a bunch of poor beggars. The phrase stirs up images which we associate with the condition; clothes torn and unwashed, face and hands full of grime and dirt, hair matted and messy, and empty hands outstretched with hopes that they might be filled. If this is your mental image of a Macedonian, you may be close, but you got one part wrong.

Photo by Nicolo Paternoster

Macedonians were a different breed of poor beggar. Make no mistake about it, these people were poor. Paul said, “They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor (2 Cor. 8:2).” Paul also tells us that they begged on a frequent basis (2 Cor. 8:4). So what makes these poor beggars different from other poor beggars?

These beggars did not beg to get; they begged to give!

“…they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem.” (2 Cor. 8:3-4)

How could these poor people be so desiring to give? They had given themselves into a generosity loop. “They are filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity (2 Cor. 8:2).” This abundant joy caused them to give out of their lack more than they could afford to give. Their reward; more abundant joy. In other’s eyes they may have been poor, but they felt rich. Where they were short on money, they were full of joy.

If you are short on joy, try giving. If you need something, give some of it away. If you need money, give some to someone who needs it more than you do. If you need a word of encouragement, give away some compliments. If you need love, give your heart to someone who is hurting.

Give out of your lack if you have to. Get inside the generosity loop. Before you know it, your heart will be full of abundant joy and you will be begging to give more.

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