Enriched by His Poverty

Pentecost 5 (Proper 8), June 27, 2021

Text: 2 Corinthians 8:1–9, 13–15

Theme: Enriched by His poverty

Other Lessons: Lamentations 3:22–33; Psalm 30; Mark 5:21–43
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
2. The Epistle lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
3. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
– Praise to You, Lord Jesus, for swapping places with us. Make our
hearts like Yours so we may embrace Your call to aid all in
need. Amen.
4. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

1. The text for the sermon is the Epistle from 2 Corinthians 8,
especially these words 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, so that you by his poverty might become rich.”


1. I am going to list several things and I want you to see if you can
guess what they have in common:
1. Daily study of God’s Word.
2. Attending church more than once a month.
3. Receiving Holy Communion more than twice a month.
4. Taking a long nap in the house, on the couch, with the AC and
fan on.
5. Trying to live a healthier way of life, one small change at a

1. Toward the end of the sermon I will share with you what those things
have in common.

What does it mean to be poor? And what does it mean to be rich? The
easiest way to determine these definitions is by measuring money and
comparing people. Those who earn and possess the most money are called
rich. Those who earn and possess the least amount of money are called poor.
That’s certainly one way to determine who’s poor and who’s rich. But is it
the most accurate way? Is it what Paul means when he calls the Corinthians

One could also simply ask people if they are poor or rich and have them
self-identify and self-report. I’m not certain what the results would tell,
but I would guess it would not be the same results as looking at data and
money. Some who possess little do not think of themselves as poor, for
they’re satisfied with what they have. Some who possess much probably don’t
consider themselves rich, because they want more and more. I wonder if the
Corinthians would have called themselves rich or poor.
1. The Macedonian churches were eager to give; the Corin­thians less so.

In the Epistle for today from 2 Corinthians 8, the apostle Paul is
encouraging the Corinthians toward generosity. He’s hoping they’ll be
generous in the relief and support of other Christians who need financial
assistance. In making his plea for their generosity, Paul holds up other
churches as an example to the Corinthians. These churches are in Macedonia.
Paul wrote letters to at least two of these churches, to the Philippians
and the Thessalonians.

These churches in Macedonia were not wealthy at the time. Yet, Paul says
that even from the depths of their poverty they overflowed in an abundance
of generosity toward others in need. These Macedonian churches were adamant
about being generous. They begged Paul so that they could participate in
the grace and fellowship of helping others in need.

Meanwhile, the Corinthian Church, which was far wealthier by earthly
standards than the Macedonians, needed to be persuaded to assist their
brothers and sisters in Christ who were in need. Paul is careful about
this. He doesn’t outright command and demand how much they should give.
Rather, Paul flatters the Corinthians, telling them that they excel at
everything and should also excel in this generosity. Using the Macedonian
churches as an example was also a tactic to persuade the Corinthians toward

Generosity and its opposite—stinginess—are not determined by how much
wealth one has. Generosity is a matter of the heart, a matter of trust, a
matter of faith. Paul sees in the Corinthians a danger that their hearts
will be stingy toward those in need. Paul seeks to open their hearts to
trust in God more than in their earthly wealth, to trust in their Lord more
than in their bank accounts.
1. We ourselves might be like either the Macedonians or the Corinthians.

Throughout history and even today, some people are like the Macedonians.
They want to give. They want to help. They can’t be held back from
generosity. Some people are the opposite of the Macedonians. They’re like
Ebenezer Scrooge in Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol. They are so
miserly and selfish that they can’t be persuaded toward a penny’s worth of
generosity despite being so abundantly wealthy themselves.

But of course, many of us are somewhere in between these two extremes.
It seems the Corinthians were. And perhaps so are you. Some people wish
they could increase their giving, but when the opportunity comes to
increase giving from a raise or a generous tax refund, their mind turns to
something else—a home remodel, a new car, or a fancier vacation. There’s
nothing wrong with these things, but more often than we’re willing to
admit, these things that serve our own desires are quicker to reach our
minds and hearts than the needs of others. Sin has curved us in upon
ourselves. This had happened with the Corinthians, and Paul is doing
everything he can to bend them away from themselves and toward their

I can’t be sure, but my guess is this is why people seem to have an
allergic reaction to churches and pastors talking about money. Bending away
from one’s self toward others is not a painless endeavor. It requires
sacrifice. It requires denying oneself.
1. But in Jesus, we have immeasurable riches from which to be generous.

Generosity Is a Matter of Faith and Trust in Jesus.

Thanks be to God we have both an example to follow and a redeemer to
save us from our sins of selfishness and stinginess: Jesus Christ. Paul
says in verse 9 that Jesus became poor so that you by his poverty might
become rich. Think about that. Jesus left the riches and glories of heaven
to come down to earth. Jesus emptied himself and took on our human form.
And he didn’t live in splendor and majesty on earth. He didn’t overthrow
Rome and take over Caesar’s palace. Jesus had no place to lay his head. He
wandered from town to town relying on the generosity of others.

And then, Jesus humbled himself and emptied himself further. He was
arrested, beaten, mocked, and sentenced to die. Though he could have risen
up in power to stop it, Jesus went to the cross stripped and bleeding to
die a criminal’s death he didn’t deserve. As Paul says, by Jesus’ poverty
we are made rich. Furthermore, by his wounds, we are healed. By his blood,
we have peace. By his death, we are given eternal life.

This generous Jesus suffered the poverty of being forsaken by his
heavenly Father so that we might enjoy the immeasurable riches of his
Father’s grace. For in the depth of his poverty, on the cross, Jesus
purchases and wins us from all sins, from death, and from the power of the
devil; not with gold or silver, but with his holy, precious blood and with
his innocent suffering and death.


1. Remember those 5 things I asked you what they have in common? Here
they are again to refresh your memory:
1. Daily study of God’s Word.
2. Attending church more than once a month.
3. Receiving Holy Communion more than twice a month.
4. Taking a long nap in the house, on the couch, with the AC and
fan on.
5. Trying to live a healthier way of life, one small change at a

1. These are all things that are meant to enrich your life!, to make it
1. They are things that bring about healing and restoration to
your body, mind, soul, and spirit.

Now we are his, and we continually live under him in his kingdom,
serving him in the everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness
that he has given to us.

Like the Corinthians, you may have been less than generous in the past.
But Generosity Is a Matter of Faith and Trust in Jesus.

And you may struggle to trust that God will find a way to care for you
as you increase your generosity, but, regardless of how much money you have
in the bank or how big your paycheck is, each one of us is rich beyond
measure. For we have been given the riches of Jesus’ death and resurrection
for us and our salvation. That is the only measurement of riches that
matters—the riches of Christ for you. Amen.

Let us pray:

632 O Jesus, Blessed Lord, to Thee

1 O Jesus, blessèd Lord, to Thee

My heartfelt thanks forever be,

Who hast so lovingly bestowed

On me Thy body and Thy blood.

2 Break forth, my soul, for joy and say:

What wealth is come to me this day!

My Savior dwells within my heart:

How blessed am I! How good Thou art!

Text: Public domain