I thank my God every time I remember you. (Philippians 1.3)
This Grace of Giving
In 2 Corinthians 8.9 we read, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.” This astounding truth surfaces after Paul lavishes praise on the Macedonian churches as examples the Corinthians should emulate. “Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity,” he writes. (v2) He says, “They gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.” (v3-4) Corinth is to Paul’s world what Paris is to ours—an urbane city brimming with affluent, educated people. Surely Paul knows readers they won’t kindle to being unfavorably compared to working-class, provincial believers. But his purpose for mentioning the Macedonians exceeds shaming the Corinthians into loosening their purse strings. He uses their example to remind his readers we’re all rich in ways that transcend our bank balances and net worth.
“Although Jesus was rich,” Paul explains, “He chose a life of poverty so we too could become rich.” He attributes this to grace, tying Christ’s selflessness to the Macedonians’ generosity. In verse 7, he tells the Corinthians, “Just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.” In other words, all that we possess and everything we acquire—not just materially, but also spiritually—won’t yield the completeness we seek if we lack the grace to give. Paul defines “this grace of giving” as generosity born out of need. Christ sacrificed heavenly splendor and earthly life to give. The Macedonians begged Paul to accept their gifts, which they offered “out of the most severe trial” and “their extreme poverty.” Both cases exemplify amazing willingness to set aside personal needs and desires to enrich others.
Among the myriad blessings I’m grateful for today, one of the most amazing and precious to me is the grace of giving so many of you have shown to Straight-Friendly. You’ve repeatedly set aside your needs and desires to enrich the lives of all who gather here, offering wisdom, candor, encouragement, and most of all, unconditional love and acceptance in your comments. You’ve upheld this place (and me) in your prayers and voluntarily invited others to join our little faith community. Your overflowing joy has welled up in rich generosity.
Over the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been blessed to get to know many of you very well through off-line conversations. Others I know through our exchanges here. And still others I know only as email subscribers, Facebook group members, and readers I regularly see when monitoring the site traffic. But all of you have made my life extraordinarily rich. I count each one of you as dear brothers and sisters in Christ—part of a tight-knit, growing family God privileged me to join. Without your generosity, none of this would be true.
Thank God for You
“I thank my God every time I remember you,” Paul exclaims in Philippians 1.3. I can only echo his sentiment. Not a day passes that I don’t thank God for you. But beyond the joy and happiness that remembering you brings me personally, I’m also thankful for what your generosity means to so many others who come here. Without your compassion and enthusiasm, this would be a hollow endeavor. You make it a safe place warmed by God’s Spirit, His love, and His presence. The significance of this can’t be overstated, because many who find us have been so thoroughly wounded by fear and rejection, shoved into cold shadows of despair. Discovering Christians who welcome everyone equally restores their hope and renews their faith. I hear this over and over in emails from individuals, many of them young GLBT people disoriented by religious prejudice, struggling to reconcile their God-given identities with their profound longing to follow Christ. Because of you, they gain new confidence and strengthen their resolve to live lives of integrity and courage. Your grace in giving makes them rich. This springs to mind whenever you—collectively and individually—enter my thoughts. And more than anything, this is why I thank God every time I remember you.
Have a marvelous, and marvelously rich, Thanksgiving.
Postscript: Really, Really Big News!
As some of you know, this blog came about after I finished the manuscript for a book written specifically to encourage alienated gay (and straight) believers to reject rejection and resume their walk with Christ. Since completing it, though, it sat on the backburner while I turned my attention to keeping up the daily posts here.
Today I’m thoroughly delighted to announce Straight-Friendly: The Gay Believer’s Life in Christ is available for purchase at:
Pending review of the final galleys, it will also be available on amazon.com and several other online book distributors. I’ve opted to self-publish, which means each copy is printed on demand and shipped directly to the purchaser. (It takes 3-5 days to process each order.)
I trust the book will speak to Christians currently struggling to overcome manmade faith barriers. And I hope many of you will give it a look, as well as recommend it to others. When you do, by all means, please drop me a line and tell me what you think!