|Volume 21 Number 12 December 2019||
Brian R. Kenyon
For some, this is the time of year more attention is focused on Jesus as the “babe in a manger.” Unfortunately, too many want to leave Jesus as that seemingly powerless, gentle baby “wrapped in swaddling clothes,” instead of making Him Lord over their lives. For others, this is the time of year all about gifts, gift, gifts! Unfortunately, many of these are either oblivious or forgetful of the most amazing gift this side (or any side) of eternity, Jesus Christ!
Paul summarized this great significance, “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). Up to this point in this section of Scripture, where the apostle was encouraging participation in the collection he was taking from Gentile churches of Christ to help the saints in Jerusalem, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to continue their contribution by appealing to the example of the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:1-5), to their own gracious beginning (2 Corinthians 8:6), to their abounding spiritual diligence (2 Corinthians 8:7) and to the dedication of the Macedonians (2 Corinthians 8:8). The “grace of our Lord” (2 Corinthians 8:9) connects the giving of God’s Son for our salvation with the love and sacrifice necessary for the giving of our lives to him (2 Corinthians 8:9a).
Jesus Was Rich
Paul’s acknowledgment that “He was rich” was in reference to Jesus’ preincarnate glory as God. Jesus was and is Divine nature, the same as the Father and the Holy Spirit. Everything God was and is, Jesus was and is (John 1:1). Jesus is eternal, existing before Abraham (John 8:58). Jesus shared the same eternal glory as the Father (John 17:6). The writer of Hebrews said that Jesus was “the express image of His [God’s] person” (Hebrews 1:3). The term “express image [the very image of his substance, ASV; exact representation, NAS; exact imprint of his nature, ESV]” is translated from the Greek word, which, when transliterated, spells character. Jesus is the exact character of God! As such, Jesus was “rich,” just like God (Ephesians 2:4), the owner of all creation (Psalm 24:1; 89:11). While the Macedonians gave from extreme poverty (2 Corinthians 8:2), Christ gave from wealth beyond imagination!
Jesus Became Poor
Though Jesus as God was wealthier than human minds can imagine, “yet for your sakes He became poor” (2 Corinthians 8:9c). The term translated “became poor” has reference to being reduced to bleak poverty. This poverty-stricken Son of God is the Divine Word Who took on human nature. He “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). Although Jesus was among the poorer class (Luke 2:24; 9:58), the reference to His becoming poor is not in relation to material wealth. Materially, others were worse off than Jesus (John 12:3-6; 13:27-29). The point is that Jesus did not consider His wealth (being on an equality with God) something to be hoarded, but “made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross” (Philippians 2:7-8). In the same sense, Jesus “was rich,” He “became poor”!
We Can Be Rich
Jesus humbled Himself to come to this earth “that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9d). “Might be rich” is not a promise of material wealth but to the riches of salvation. No amount of wealth could be of more value than “the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Peter 1:18-20). Jesus took on human “flesh and blood” that “through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:14-15). The wealth resulting for us due to His death on Calvary is beyond accurate count but may be summarized as “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Ephesians 1:3). This wealthy, abundant life made possible by Jesus is enjoyed now in a limited way (John 10:10), but it will not be fully experienced until Jesus comes again and the faithful are fitted for an eternal dwelling with Him (1 Corinthians 15:51-57; 1 John 3:2). Christ gave Himself in order that we might have salvation!
No matter our view of this time of year, we must keep our minds focused on the greatest gift, Jesus’ sacrifice. May this motivate us to greater sacrificial service all year. Let us imitate Jesus, the greatest example of sacrifice!
The word “prejudice” simply means to “prejudge” or to make a determination before looking into the truth of the matter. Webster says of the word, “(1) preconceived judgment or opinion (2) an adverse opinion or leaning formed without just grounds or before sufficient knowledge.” Another word that often is used to define “prejudice” is “bias.” Webster says that “bias” is “an inclination of temperament or outlook; a highly personal and unreasoned distortion of judgment; one’s tendency.”
Here is the unfortunate thing; people confuse “prejudice” with “judgment.” If I make a judgment about a certain doctrine, lifestyle or practice, then I may be accused of prejudice by someone! This is not the case at all! Oftentimes, I may be called prejudiced in an attempt to divert the attention from the issue and discredit my character.
Judgment is something that should be exercised in all aspects of life. Jesus insisted that we “judge righteous judgment” (John 7:24). Jesus named “judgment” along with “mercy” and “faith” as important matters that we should exercise (Matthew 23:23).
The Greek word for “judge” is “krino.” It means to “judge,” “determine,” “condemn,” “go to law,” “call in question” or “esteem.” Webster says “judge” is “to form an opinion about a matter through careful weighing of evidence and testing of premises; to determine or pronounce after inquiry and deliberation.”
To have an opinion (judgment) about anything without knowing about it is indeed folly! However, to abstain from an opinion (judgment) after studying the facts is irresponsible! I must come to a conclusion (judgment) concerning important issues in my life.
What could be more important than my soul? I must carefully weigh out the truths and make a determination (judgment) as to which doctrine is true and which is false. If I make a judgment based on others’ opinions or because I “feel” a tendency to go in that direction, without knowing anything about the doctrine, it is folly! If I fail to make any judgment or commitment at all, even after having studied the issues, then I am irresponsible with my soul’s future!
Don’t be prejudiced, but do make righteous judgments!