2 Corinthians 8:9
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor…
The insertion of this compact statement of our Saviour's love and self-devotion for our sakes into an exhortation to love and liberality in the Church, illustrates the habit of St. Paul's mind to revert often to central truths, and take his motives and arguments directly from Christ and the cross. "Ye know the grace of our Lord." But consider what you know, that it may influence your disposition and conduct; for nothing is more common than to hold known truth so loosely and carelessly in the mind that it is as though it had never been known or were quite forgotten.
I. THE SAVIOUR'S WEALTH. Of the riches of his pre-existent glory who can adequately speak? Who can tell the wealth of Divine power and dignity and love in the Word which was with God and was God - all the angels of God his servants, all the works of God full of his praise? But this is not a subject on which to dilate. It is above the reach of our comments and illustrations. Read John 1.; Colossians 1.; Hebrews 1.
II. THE SAVIOUR'S IMPOVERISHMENT. (Comp. Philippians 2:5-11.) Our Lord's participation of the Divine essence was not, could not, be surrendered. But the form of God could be and was laid aside. The form cannot be without the being and nature; but the being and nature may dispense with the form. So the Son of God in his grace toward us assumed the form of a man, and that in low estate - the form of a servant. He accepted a lowly human rank, with no attendants on his person but such as followed him in love, and no house of his own wherein to lay his head at night. In wisdom, indeed, and all that constitutes moral wealth and dignity, Jesus of Nazareth was rich; but in earthly station and treasure he was poor, and poor by choice. See him in youth in the carpenter's house, eating the bread of the working man with cheerfulness. In the little town there must have been many a piece of furniture, and on the farms and vineyards around many a tool, which had been under the human hands of the Son of God. See him on foot on the rough roads of Palestine, while others rode past on horses and mules. See him in the days of his ministry dependent on any who pleased to minister to his necessities; at last deserted by his friends and insulted by his foes - despised and rejected of men. Truly he became poor.
III. THE SAVIOUR'S GRACE. "For your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be enriched." In this short statement the whole work of substitution and redemption is implied. You are enriched through his poverty, blessed because of his suffering, accepted by reason of his rejection, reconciled through his death. It is evident that the riches thus secured to those that believe are not treasures of this world, but of the same order with the riches which the Saviour laid aside for a season. They receive the privilege of sonship with God, and therefore also the heirship of all things with Christ Jesus. The Son of God became man, and a poor man, that they, being men, and poor men, might be owned as sons of God. Dwell upon the riches in redemption, regeneration, forgiveness, justification, adoption, sanctification, comfort, patience, the earnest of the inheritance now, and the inheritance itself at his coming. And all because he became poor for your sakes. You get sweetness out of sorrow, glory out of shame, strength from weakness, wealth through poverty, and life through death.
IV. THE PRACTICAL INFLUENCE OF CONSIDERING THE SAVIOUR'S GRACE.
1. Not to raise a foolish admiration of poverty for its own sake. At one time this text was cited in support of lazy beggary. The mendicant friars quoted it, insisting that the Lord himself was a mendicant, and that this must be the most holy and Christ-like state. Great schoolmen debated this, and papal bulls dealt with this notion. Such questions we can no longer discuss with seriousness. Property is not to be abandoned by Christians, but wisely administered. The rich and the poor are to continue together in the Church, each condition having its own duties and its own attendant temptations.
2. To set our hearts on the true riches - faith and good works, a calm conscience, and affections set on things above. He is rich who has a patient spirit, a pure heart, a heavenly mind, and a hope of glory.
3. To live and give that others may be blessed. Be generous in service and gifts to the Church and the poor. Be willing to communicate, ready to distribute. Otherwise do not allege that you have the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. You have not felt the constraint of his love or the beauty of his example. - F.
Parallel VersesKJV: For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.