All this is for your sake, so that the abounding grace that is spreading to more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. (2 Cor 4:15, mine)
This remarkable verse and the context from which it comes contains some interesting paradoxes. If you have not learned to both recognize and embrace these, you will be more susceptible to sinful temptations and to spiritual disillusionment. A brief meditation will secure some deep benefit to the sincere follower of Christ during this holiday season.
1. Abounding grace is spreading (lit: multiplying) and thanksgiving is overflowing… Clearly the folks who were following Christ were experiencing an infectious and overflowing abundance in Him! The paradox comes when we consider the context. There is much hardship, persecution, and trouble leveled against those who were sincerely following Christ – and especially against those who had given their lives to make the gospel known among those who had not heard it.
The promise in this paradox? God’s grace is glorious enough to keep me in Christ’s victory even in the midst of severe trials.
2. The overflowing fullness of blessing that believers were enjoying was resulting in God being mightily glorified. It is very common for people to think that their own pleasure and God’s glory cannot happen simultaneously! In most settings if you speak about getting right with God and following Jesus, you will immediately see people scatter like cockroaches when the light is turned on. Joy is often not a word that comes to mind when people think about totally surrendering to God’s will for their lives. But this is exactly the paradox that these believers were experiencing!
The promise in this paradox? Jesus is a far greater treasure than anything this world offers. As I follow Him I am setting a course for my ultimate good.
3. Living their lives with a Christ-centered, eternal perspective, actually made them a greater immediate blessing to others! The context supports this paradox completely. Our verse is sandwiched between two interesting sentences. The first (v. 14) refers to the reality that the same God who raised Jesus from the dead will also one day in the future raise up all who have loved and served Him. And the second (v. 16) to the reality that the troubles we face in life are actually creating opportunities for God to give us a greater fellowship in Christ’s overcoming life now…in the midst of the pressure! Years ago it wasn’t uncommon to hear the statement, “He is so heavenly minded that he’s of no earthly good.” But the very opposite is true. People who are most captivated by the real grace of God in Jesus are unable to keep it to themselves…it must overflow in a life of blessing and generosity to those around them.
The promise of this paradox: God’s grace will be multiplied as I give it to others. The way I experience more of His joy and provision is by holding everything loosely and sharing it freely!