Paul tells them that this is a test. Paul is testing the genuineness of their love against the earnestness of the Macedonians. And how will he measure their generosity? By a very big yardstick, the standard set by Christ, who "though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor." Against that standard, no gifts are too big. But Paul is not preaching to billionaires. He is saying that if the eagerness is there, if their hearts are really in it, then there are no gifts too small, either. Their gifts will be measured according to what they have, not according to what they don't have.
The horrible shooting at the church in Charleston shocked the conscious of our nation. And it is looking likely that nine dead African Americans will succeed in doing what countless civil rights and faith-based organizations have been trying and failing for decades to do: remove the Confederate flag from the grounds of the South Carolina statehouse. I guess it's true what Paul says in our reading today: when you are weak, then you are strong. This act of domestic terrorism raises up questions for us: what is power and what is weakness? Did Dylaan Roof have power because he had hate in his heart and a gun in his hand? Were the church members weak because they didn't? Depends on your perspective, doesn't it? So today we're going to look at power and weakness from God's perspective.
None of us probably thought that being a member of church meant practicing love in a prison. But when you join a church, you make a commitment to love others, no matter what. You say, "I'm throwing my lot in with these folks, not because they're all model Christians, but because they are going to give me many, many opportunities to practice my faith, and whether they are saints or sinners, they are going to help me go on to perfection in love."
That theme is what our scripture from 2 Corinthians shares so PERFECTLY about how God calls us to "Come alongside those who are struggling" And that's it. If I were to finish today I would say "Happy Mother's day to all those who have "come along side others" who have struggled, whether you are a mom or not.". I'd also say "If you want people to come to Christ you need to come alongside those who are struggling and model the gracious, forgiving and compassionate love of Jesus".
Listening in the car, I was dumbfounded. I had never considered that there might be a better way to eat a banana. When I got home, I tried it. The radio was right. Well, who would've guessed that turning a banana upside down could turn my whole world upside down! As far as bananas are concerned, I am born anew. And I am reminded that there are always new things to say about new life.