They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity.
2 Corinthians 8:2 (NLT)
In his second letter to the Church at Corinth, Paul writes of the difficulties and poverty of the Macedonian Christians but then he says something rather interesting. He speaks of their joy and generosity. In fact, these Christians do not merely have joy, they have abundant joy. They do not merely have generosity, they have rich generosity.
We do not normally equate abundant joy and rich generosity with many troubles and poverty, do we? The Macedonian Christians apparently were not "normal", at least in the worldly sense. Is this "normal" behavior for Christians today? As I reflected upon that question, I don't think I like the answer. Yes, I do see joyful and generous Christians despite their circumstances however, I also see joyless ones who always have ready excuses of why they can't give. Is there a connection between joy and generosity? I believe there is.
Whenever we willingly make a sacrifice and give, whether it is money, resources, time, etc, we cannot help but experience great joy. Joy is the natural by product of generosity. The reverse is also true. Generosity produces abundant joy. If you are going through a difficult time and you are discouraged, it is very tempting to curl up in a ball and become self-centered. That is exactly what you should not do! This is the time when it is critical to reach out, even if you do not feel like it and give of yourself in some way. When you do, you will experience joy which will in turn produce generosity, which in turn will produce greater joy which will then produce greater generosity and well, you get the idea.
When you think about it, this truly is a glorious thing. It is so glorious that God wants us to experience it continuously. Instead of focusing on our wants and our needs, perhaps we need to begin each day asking God, "What can I do for someone today?"
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007, 2013 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Amen and amen! I have experienced this phenomenon many times! And sadly the inverse also.
"What can I do for someone today?"
Yes! And what I find especially interesting in this phrase is the "impact" it has on me in ... written form. It's like "someone" is in the word "someone" -- looking back at me asking me that very question.
Does the joy come from giving or from the loving obedience to the Lord Jesus and His command to give?
It is always amazing how those with the least means on this earth study after study, give more as a % of what little possessions God has placed in the hands than those extremely well off. Being of little mean the need is seen more easily and readily offered help than ones trapped in the "cares of this world" (and it's stuff)