Equality

Paul indicated in his second letter to the Corinthians that one of the works of the Holy Spirit is to bring equality to the members of the body of Christ. Paul used the example of Jesus’ death on the cross to show how God’s riches are meant to be distributed to those in need. He said, ” For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9, NKJV). The Greek word translated grace, charis (khar’-ece) refers to the friendly disposition from which acts of kindness proceed (G5485). The objective of grace is to give away what others need more than we do. Paul wasn’t suggesting that Christians should go into debt in order to take care of the needs of others. He stated, “For I mean not that other men be eased, and you burdened, but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality” (2 Corinthians 8:13-14).

The Greek word translated abundance in 2 Corinthians 8:14, perisseuma (per-is’-syoo-mah) means surplus or what is left over (G4051). In some ways, it could be thought of as that which might otherwise go to waste or what we might normally store up for a rainy day. The point I believe Paul was trying to make was that God’s provision doesn’t involve us storing things up for the future. We are to give away what we don’t need now so that when we are in need, God can provide for that need through someone else’s generosity. The Greek word translated equality, isotes (ee-sot’-ace) means likeness (G2471) and has to do with our circumstances being perceived to be similar. In other words, you’re not rich and I’m living in poverty, we both have a comfortable lifestyle.

The principle behind Paul’s lesson on Christian equality was sowing and reaping. He stated:

The point is this: whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:6-8, ESV)

The Greek word translated sufficiency in 2 Corinthians 9:8, autarkeia (ow-tar’-ki-ah) means self satisfaction or contentedness (G841). Paul wanted the believers in Corinth to give to the church in Jerusalem where Jewish believers were suffering greatly for their faith in Jesus, not because they were being pressured to do it, but so that they wouldn’t feel ashamed because they were well off. Paul added that the Corinthians shouldn’t give grudgingly meaning because they felt sorry for the Jewish believers (G3077/GG1537) or out of necessity because they were afraid something bad might happen to them if they didn’t help (G318). The Corinthians’ motive for giving was supposed to be so that they would be equally blessed by God in their time of need.

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