Jesus's revolutionary message of the Kingdom of God—a kingdom accessible only by faith required loving obedience to God, as well as loving service to brothers and sisters in God’s family. The attitude and behavior in this kingdom were to be compassionate, demonstrate love, and to provide caring concern for others—all of which was modeled by Jesus himself. Compassion means to suffer with another person. To have compassion means more than just feeling sorry for somebody. Biblical compassion means that you see the problem, you are moved by the need, you go out to where the problem is, and you try to help people get their problems solved and raise them up to a higher level of life. We see this in a number of places in the life of Christ. Matthew 14:14 tells us that Jesus had compassion on the great crowd following him so he healed the sick and then fed the 5000. When Jesus saw the two blind men of Jericho, Matthew 20:34 tells us that he was filled with compassion and healed them on the spot.
In today's portion for meditation 2 Corinthians 8:1-9, Paul is addressing the Corinthians on the subject of giving. As he traveled, he asked the Gentile churches to take collections of money that could be taken back to Jerusalem for the poor saints in Jerusalem. The Jerusalem church was very poor because many of the people in the church were pilgrims who had been visiting the land of Palestine during the time of feasts, and they were converted to Christ, and they stayed and never went back home. They had no jobs, no houses, no livelihood. And so, those poor people, those pilgrims who stayed, had to be cared for by the Jerusalem Christians. Jerusalem Christians had a problem, though, because once they identified with Christ, they lost their jobs, were put out of their family, and therefore were poor as well. So, the poverty of the Jerusalem church was very widespread. Most of the people were poor.
Early on in the life of the church, the people who did have money sold what they had, took the money, and gave to the poor, and those were not resources that could be replenished. And so, many had become impoverished in that very process. In order to meet the needs of those poor saints, Paul was collecting money from all of the Gentile churches, including the Corinthian church. They had apparently begun to do that, perhaps not continued it, and he is here, in the second letter, encouraging them to finish their giving. So, Paul endeavors to stimulate the giving of the Corinthians by showing them the example of the Macedonians who gave in spite of their difficult circumstances. He also goes on to encourage them by reminding them of the most generous and greatest gift of all in verse 9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich"
Rich people give out of their riches; they don’t impoverish themselves in the process normally. But Jesus became poor, that we might be made rich. It is the task of the church to make the invisible kingdom of God visible. The only way the kingdom of God is going to be manifest in this world before Christ comes is if we manifest it by the way we live as citizens of heaven and subjects of the King. God has helped us for a purpose: that we might take what we have received and share it with those who desperately need it. There are people in our lives who need the help only we can give. May God enable us to extend his compassion to those in need so that they too may feel loved and experience the kingdom of God on earth.