Sunday, February 19, 2017

2 Corinthians 8:2 -- On Generosity in Poverty and Joy in Affliction

"How that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality."
2 Corinthians 8:2

This is a verse of seeming contradictions.  People who were in the midst of great afflictions, and yet were overflowing with joy.  These same people were desperately poor, and yet were overly generous and giving.  Those things just don't seem to go together in our world.  We hear of the charities set up by b'zillionaires, but we don't often hear stories like the one that Christ told about the widow's mite (Mark 12:42-44).

This poor-but-generous thing seems to be something that Christ asks of us, at least at some level in our progression.  He told the rich man who asked what more he could do to "sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor" (Luke 18:22).  It also sounds like the idea that crops up many times in the scriptures about having "all things common" (Acts 4:32, 3 Nephi 26:19), or having no poor among the people (Deuteronomy 15:4, Moses 7:18), or the idea of being equal in worldly possessions: "For if ye are not equal in earthly things ye cannot be equal in obtaining heavenly things;" (D&C 78:6).  Whenever people get really close to perfection, God asks them to try it.  And maybe we're not ready as a society to jump there all at once, but there are definitely things that we can do that will help us get closer individually.  Something good to think on.

The idea of joy in the midst of affliction is another one that crops up in scripture a lot, for instance Mosiah 24:15, where the people were in slavery and yet cheerful, because the Lord had lightened their burdens.  Joy is something that we can have with God's help, no matter what else is going on in our lives.  I know it doesn't always feel like it... sometimes it feels like there is no path back to feeling good, and that we're trapped in the darkness.  Because we know how it feels, let's reach out to others who feel that way and show them some light by supporting and helping them in their hours of need.  And when we are trapped and sinking, let's reach out to God.  He will always be there for us, to lighten our burdens and to help us to find joy and peace.

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