2 Corinthians 8:9
According to the teaching of the New Testament, human kindness should be based upon Divine benevolence. Such is the import of this wonderful parenthesis - a jewel which the inspired writer drops by the way and passes on.

I. CHRIST'S NATIVE RICHES CONTRASTED WITH HIS VOLUNTARY POVERTY,

1. His proper rightful wealth is apparent, not only from his nature as the Son of God, but from his evident command, during his earthly ministry, of all the resources of nature. Bread, wine, money, he could multiply or create; the earth and the sea obeyed his will; diseases and demons fled at his bidding.

2. His poverty was not compulsory; it was a "grace." We see it in his incarnation, in which he emptied himself of his glory; in his ministry, passed in a lowly and all but destitute condition of life; in his refusal to use his power for selfish ends; in his cheerful submission to a shameful death. Compare the glory which he claimed to have had with the Father before the world was, with the homelessness and poverty of his life and the desertion and ignominy of his death, and his "grace" appeals to every just mind, to every sensitive heart.

II. OUR NATIVE SPIRITUAL POVERTY CONTRASTED WITH OUR ACQUIRED SPIRITUAL WEALTH.

1. Our natural destitution is undeniable; by sin we have lost our possessions, our inheritance, our powers of acquisition, and are left resourceless and friendless. Apart from the interposition of Christ, and where Christianity is unknown, such is still the state of man.

2. Christ's humiliation was for the sake of man's spiritual enrichment. Only by condescension, compassion, and sacrifice could man be reached. Thus he drew near to us, and imparted to us of his own true and Divine riches, of knowledge, of righteousness, of favour, and of glory.

3. By Christ's mediation all things are ours, God, giving Christ, gives with him all good things. "I have all things and abound," is the testimony of every right-minded and appreciative disciple of Christ. The history of the Church is the history of the enrichment of the race; and this in turn is the pledge and promise of the inestimable and inexhaustible riches of eternity. - T.







For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich.
I. HOW DO WE KNOW IT. "Ye know."

1. There are records which establish the fact — the gospels, epistles, etc., the burden of all of which is, "He was rich, yet for your sakes," etc. The contents may be classified thus —

(1)Earthly facts in the realm of history (Acts 10:38).

(2)Antecedent facts in the realm of testimony (John 16:28).

(3)The meaning of the facts in the realm of inspiration (1 Timothy 1:15).

(4)The after issues of the facts in the realm of experience (Ephesians 2:13).

2. There are the fathers who accepted and expounded the fact.

3. Through all the entanglements of controversy in the history of the Church this fact and doctrine remains undisturbed.

4. The continuity of the Church has no other solution but this. "He was rich," etc.

II. WHAT IS THE FACT WHICH WE KNOW.

1. The person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

2. His pre-existence (John 17:5) — rich in the Father's love and in the plenitude of power.

3. His incarnation (John 1:14). "He became poor." He descended into the lowest rank amongst created intelligences, and in that rank was the poorest of the poor.

4. The purpose. "That we might be made rich." He descended from His throne that we might ascend to it.

5. This was all prompted by grace. Infinite love finds its highest joy in giving itself to enrich others.

III. WHAT DO WE COME TO KNOW THROUGH KNOWING THIS? There are many truths which are valuable, not merely in themselves, but also on account of the further knowledge we acquire through them — e.g., to know how to secure the best microscope is of value in this sense, so with the telescope. There are four fields of knowledge opened up by our knowledge of the grace of Christ.

1. The infinite love of God (Romans 5:8).

2. The value of man in the eye of Heaven.

3. The Divine consecration of self-sacrifice.

4. The Divine lever by which God would lift the world.

IV. THIS ADDITION TO OUR KNOWLEDGE OUGHT TO BE THE MEANS OF GREATER FULNESS IN OUR LIFE. Knowing this fact our response should be —

1. Loyalty.

2. Joy.

3. Elevation and holiness.

4. Earnestness in commending it to others.

(C. Clemance, D. D.)

I. THE ORIGINAL GREATNESS OF CHRIST. "He was rich." When? Not during His life upon the earth. It could not be said that He was born rich. Neither did He acquire wealth. It must have been then at some other time. We take, therefore, the term "rich" to designate "the glory which Christ had with the Father before the world was." Not His Godhead, but its manifested splendour. When Peter the Great wrought as a common shipwright he did not cease to be the autocrat of Russia, but his royalty was veiled. So the Lord did not lay aside His deity, but the advantages of it.

II. THE LOWLINESS OF HIS AFTER LOT. Marvellous condescension!

III. HIS PURPOSE. Three things are implied —

1. That men are poor in respect of the spiritual riches. Intellectually the mind of the sinner may be well furnished, but he has no knowledge of God, no peace with God, no portion in God.

2. Christ became poor in order to enrich men, to bring us pardon, purity, peace, and happiness.

3. These riches come to us through the poverty which Christ endured. He could not have enriched us if He had not thus emptied Himself, for our poverty had its root in our sin, and that sin had to be atoned for before we could be blessed (cf. 2 Corinthians 5:21).

(W. M. Taylor, D. D.)

I. A FACT STATED. That Christ being rich became poor.

1. He was rich in the possession of the ineffable glory which He had with the Father before all worlds (John 17:5; John 1:1; Hebrews 2:14-16). Though He could not change the attributes of His nature, He suspended their glorious manifestation. This was a voluntary act; He existed in such a mode that He had the power to lay aside His effulgence.

2. He was rich not only in glory but in virtue. He was the object of supreme complacency with the Father for His immaculate perfection. This character could not be put off, yet His relative position to law was altered. Though He could not become poor in the sense of being a sinner, He did in the sense of being treated like one. He was regarded by the law as a debtor, and His life was the forfeit of such moral poverty.

II. THE DESIGN TO BE ACCOMPLISHED. "That we through His poverty might be made rich."

1. We were poor —(1) In having lost the glory and dignity with which we were originally invested.(2) In being sunk in positive and practical sin.(3) In the sense that we had nothing to pay. We were bankrupts as well as debtors. We could not answer the demands of law.

2. Christ became poor, and so made us rich —(1) By laying the foundation for our pardon in His sacrificial and vicarious death.(2) By affording a ground in virtue of which the Holy Spirit is dispensed, by whom we are renewed in righteousness and true holiness after the image of Him who created us.(3) By giving us a hope of being richer in the next world than we can be in this. We now know something of "the riches of His grace," but we read also of His "riches in glory."

III. THE KNOWLEDGE WHICH YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO POSSESS OF ALL THIS. "Ye know."

1. You know it is true. This is an appeal to judgment and reason, guided by evidence in support of the truth.

2. You know it in yourselves, as enriching you now. You have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

3. You know it as the ground on which all your hopes are built for futurity, the source from which you derive grace upon earth, and to which you feel yourselves to be indebted for all the honour and glory which eternity will disclose.This is an appeal to Christian consistency, for it is only the consistent Christian that can feel the confidence that he is standing upon this rock, who can look forward now in time to what eternity will disclose. In conclusion, learn —

1. The importance which it becomes us to attach to all matters which are matters of pure revelation, of which this subject is one.

2. The actual necessity that there is for the doctrines of the Cross to give coherency and consistency to the whole system of revealed truth.

3. How grace is exercised towards us; and then you learn the claims which Christ has upon our affections and our gratitude.

4. The necessity that there is for your examining into the extent, the accuracy, and the influence of your knowledge of religious truth. What a shame it would be if, when the language were addressed to you, "You know this," you were to reply, "No, I do not know it; I have never read nor thought of it."

5. That Christian morality is animated and sustained by purely Christian motives. It is very observable how Paul associates almost every moral virtue, in some way or other, with our obligations to Christ.

6. That the riches of the Church throughout eternity wilt bear a proportion to the poverty by which they were obtained. The Church shall be lifted so high, and her riches shall be so transcendent, as the poverty of Christ was extreme and aggravated.

(T. Binney.)

It can scarcely be needful that I should bid you give your attention to these words. For we prick up our ears the moment we catch the slightest sound that seems to hold out a promise of making us rich. Will any of you tell me that you have no wish to be richer than you are? Happy are you. You must be truly rich; and you must have gained your riches in the only way in which true riches can be gained, through the grace and the poverty of Christ.

I. CHRIST WAS RICH

1. When He was with God, even from the beginning, sharing in the Divine power and wisdom and glory, and showing forth all this in creating the worlds.

2. When He said, "Let there be light." The light which has been streaming ever since in such a rich, inexhaustible flood, was merely a part of His riches.

3. When He bade the earth bring forth its innumerable varieties of herbs and plants and trees, and peopled it with living creatures, equally numerous.

4. When He made man, and gave him the wonderful gifts of feelings, affections, thought, speech, etc., when He gave him the power of knowing Him who was the Author of all things, and of doing His will. This was the crowning work in which Christ showed forth His riches; and yet in this very work before long we find a mark of poverty. For man, though made to be rich, made himself poor. He made himself poor in that he, to whom God had given the dominion over every creature, made himself subject to the creature, and chained his soul to the earth, as a dog is chained to its kennel; in that, instead of opening his soul to receive the heavenly riches wherewith God had purposed to fill it, he closed it against that riches, while he gave himself up to acquiring what he deemed far more valuable; in that, instead of lifting up and spreading out his heart and soul in adoration to God, he dwarfed and cramped them by twisting and curling all his thoughts and feelings around the puny idol, self.

II. HE BECAME POOR. How? In the very act of taking our nature upon Him, in subjecting Himself to the laws of mortality, to the bonds of time and space, to the weaknesses of the flesh, to earthly life and death. Even if He had come to reign over the whole earth He would have descended from the summit of power and riches to that which in comparison would have been miserable poverty. But then He would not have set us an example how we too are to become rich. Therefore He to whom the highest height of earthly riches would have been poverty, vouchsafed to descend to the lowest depths of earthly poverty. And at His death He vouchsafed to descend into the nethermost pit of earthly degradation, to a death whereby He was "numbered among the transgressors."

III. HE BECAME POOR THAT WE THROUGH HIS POVERTY MIGHT BE RICH. Note that our poverty was twofold — that which haunted us through life in consequence of our seeking false riches, whereby we are sure to lose true riches; and that to which we become subject in death, an eternal poverty, which awaits all such as have not laid up treasure in heaven. Now —

1. The example of Christ's life, if we understand it and receive its blessings into our hearts, will deliver us from that poverty which arises from our seeking after false riches. For that poverty results in no small measure from the mist which is over our eyes which keeps us from discerning the true value of things, and deludes us by outward shows. It results from our supposing that riches consists in our having worldly wealth. Yet what is the real value of this under any grievous trial? Assuredly we may say to the things of this world, "Miserable comforters are ye all." Therefore had it been possible for our Lord to be deluded by the bribe of the tempter, He would only have sunk thereby into far lower poverty than before. For He would thereby have lost that heavenly riches which lay in cleaving to the Divine word, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God," etc. He would have lost the riches and the power of that word which was mightier than all the kingdoms of the earth; for it made the devil depart from Him, and angels come and minister to Him, which all the armies of all the kingdoms of the earth could not have done. This, our Lord teaches us, is true riches. Moreover our Lord's example teaches us that true riches, while it does not consist in what we have of the things of this world, does consist in what we give. Nor is this to be measured by the amount given, but by the heart which gives it. The poor widow was rich in some measure after the pattern of our Saviour Himself. She had the riches of love, of freedom from care, of a full trust in Him who feeds the fowls of the air, and clothes the grass of the field. Here you may see plainly how the poorest of you may become rich through Christ's poverty.

2. By the sacrifice of His death. One of His first declarations was, that the poor are blessed because theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Now they who have an inheritance in this are rich not for a few days or years, but to eternity. But something more is needed in order to attain it beside the mere fact of being poor. For we do not enter into that kingdom through our own poverty, but through Christ's. But when we remember Christ's poverty, when we feel that He died in order that we might live, when we know that through His precious sacrifice we are reconciled to the Father, and that, poor as we are in ourselves, and destitute of every grace, He has obtained the power of the Spirit for us, and through Him will give us grace for grace — then for the first time we find out that in Him we are truly rich. When we consider ourselves apart from Christ we are always poor — in strength, in grace, in hope. But when we have been brought by His Spirit to feel ourselves at one with Him, when we think, and pray, and act, not in our own strength, but in His, then we become partakers of those infinite riches He came to bestow.

(Archdeacon Hare.)

I. THE NATIVE RICHES OF CHRIST. They are the riches of God. Whatever God is, and has, "the Only-begotten of the Father" possesses.

1. These riches were first displayed in the things which He made (John 1:2; Colossians 1:15-17). He is the hidden spring, the open river, and the ocean fulness of universal life and being.

2. But, whilst He is the presupposition of all things, He is also the prophecy of all things. All things look to, move towards, and only rest in Him. Creatures have latent powers that they cannot exercise, desires that they never satisfy. Man is felt and seen to be the crown of nature. But among the sons of men there is no complete man. When "the Word became flesh," human nature first became complete and crowned.

3. What then must His riches be who is the wealth of God? Riches among men are distributed. To one is given genius; to another force of character; to another social eminence; to another worldly abundance. But the native riches of our Lord is the wealth of all wealth. In Him it pleases the whole fulness of God to dwell. Consider first the earth in all its wealth of land and ocean; its production of life in all its forms; the riches of its hidden wisdom in the prevailing order of its silent forces; and the wealth of goodness displayed in the designed beneficence that constrains all things to subserve the well-being of all creatures. Then call to mind the wealth which flows in the stream of human life. From the earth we must rise to the starry heavens, and thence to the infinite unseen beyond, before we can begin to estimate the native riches of Him of whose grace our text speaks; the "unsearchable riches" which He had with the Father before all worlds, by the possession of which it became His great work to "cause all to see," etc. (Ephesians 3:9, 10), The riches of our Lord will only be seen in the end.

II. THE POVERTY HE CHOSE. To be poor, never having been anything else, can scarcely be regarded as an evil; but to become poor — how great a calamity! Yet He who was rich in all the wealth of God became poor. Consider the poverty of —

1. His nature. "The Word became flesh," the frailest and most corruptible of all the forms of life. He who had life in Himself became dependent for life, and breath, and all things. He whom angels worshipped was made so much lower than they as to welcome their ministrations. He who was the bread of God became dependent upon the bread of the world. He, the Eternal Son, having "life in Himself," became partaker of a life subject to all the laws of developed existence. He who was the Wisdom of God grew in knowledge. He who was possessed of "all power" craves the sustaining fellowship of men. And He to whom all pray became Himself a man of prayer, whose prayers were agonies unto blood-sweating.

2. His circumstances.(1) The time of His birth was poor — when the degradation of His nation was complete, when Judaea wore a foreign yoke.(2) The place of His birth was in keeping with the time.(3) As He was born in poverty, so in poverty He was brought up, and in poverty He lived and died.

3. His experience. He was "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Now there is nothing makes us feel how utterly poor we are like sorrow. We only weep when we are at our wits' end, and our last resource has been exhausted. Jesus was "stricken, smitten of God and afflicted"; "He was numbered with transgressors."

III. THE WEALTH OF HIS POVERTY. It is through His poverty that we are made rich. His riches flow to us, and become ours, through His poverty. His riches require poverty as the medium through which alone they can be given to the poor. Note —

1. Its voluntariness. He became poor. By His own act "He became poor," the act of His eager love and obedience (Hebrews 10:5-7). No one took from off His brow the crown of heaven, He laid it aside; no one stripped Him of His royal robes, He unrobed Himself; no one paralysed the arm of His power, of Himself He chose our weakness; He laid down the life of heaven for the life of earth, as He laid down the life of earth for the life of heaven.

2. Its vicariousness. His riches were not laid aside for the sons of light; or for the angels who kept not their first estate, but for the dust-clothed and sinful children of earth. Had our circumstances and condition, calling for His help, been the result of misfortune or ignorance, His pity were not so strange. But He became poor for sinners, for rebels, hard and unrelenting in their rebellion. "Hereby perceive we the love of God," "in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Through such poverty flow riches enough to quicken the dead in trespasses and sins.

3. The beneficence of its purpose. He does not contemplate our deliverance merely, nor our restoration to man's primitive state. He became poor that we may be rich in all the filial correspondences of the Father's wealth. "My God shall supply all your need," etc.

4. The fittingness of His poverty for the communication of His riches. We must become that which we would bless. The father makes himself a child that he may win the child's heart; the teacher makes himself one with his scholars that he may the better teach them. We must weep with those who weep if we would comfort them, and lie under the sins of sinners if we would save them from their sins. The riches of Christ's grace could only be communicated through the poverty which brought Him under our condition. "He who was rich became poor," "was compassed with our infirmity," "touched with our feeling," "tempted in all points as we are," "that we might find grace to help in every time of need," and that He might become our "eternal salvation."

5. The capacity for wealth contained in poverty. Only a nature capable of great riches can be subject to great poverty. But the depth of poverty measures the experience of the riches which deliver from its destitution. Only a creature made in the image of God, and constituted a partaker of the Divine nature, could suffer the loss of God and be "without hope in the world." And only on those who have suffered from the want of God could there be the display of His innermost riches. The deepest wants in man are met by the innermost "needs be" in God. Sin opens up and explores in the creature solemn and awful depths, but the awful depths of sin become filled with God's mercy towards sinners.

(W. Pulsford, D. D.)

Here we are reminded of the manifestation of the Divine love in Jesus Christ, and of the grand design of that manifestation.

1. Christ became poor in character. In the past eternity He dwelt in a holy universe; was circled about with holy hosts; He was Himself the light in which there was no darkness at all. But He "became poor." He condescended to dwell with sinners; to become the substitute and representative of a guilty race. "He was made in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh." Here is the heart of the text. "He was made sin for us who knew no sin." We all heard a few years ago of the island in the South Seas called Leper Island; all who became infected with the terrible disease in any of the adjoining islands were banished to Leper Island, and there ultimately they miserably perished. And then we were told of a priest who out of pure pity went to live in the plague spot. He was not a leper, but he cut himself off from civilisation, and was willing to share the lot of the sufferers so that he might minister to them, living with them, being buried with them. The conduct of that missionary was a reflection of the great sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Catholic missionary consenting to live with the leprous community could not communicate his health to them — that was utterly beyond his design and power; the fact is the priest became infected with the leprosy himself and died of it. But Christ came to heal us of our direful malady, to make us share His strong and beautiful life, to touch our lips with cleansing, to banish our corruptions, to send heavenly health through all our veins, to give to our whole being the vitality and bloom of righteousness. What is more clear than the fact that Christ has enriched the race with a new, a higher, a more powerful righteousness? When the incarnation came the world was poor enough in character. The nations had wasted their substance in riotous living, and Jew and Greek were alike hopeless and corrupt. But let us not lose ourselves in generalities. "For your sakes." The apostle individualises. Let us personally claim that grace, and although we are poor and blind and naked and defiled, He shall cleanse us from every spot, and make our raiment to be of gold and fine needlework.

2. Christ became poor in dominion. In the eternity of the past Christ sat on the throne. He was the Creator, Ruler, Heir of all things. But for "our sakes He became poor." The fact of His poverty is seen in that it was possible for Him to be tempted. He took upon Himself the form of a slave and became obedient unto death, even the death of the Cross. "That we might become rich." That, slaves as we were, the lost kingship might be restored to us. Christ restores us to self-government. This crown of self-government has fallen from our head. We are tyrannised over by vile passions — intemperance, anger, pride, avarice — all these vices triumph over us, and make a show of us openly. Christ once more puts the fallen crown upon our head. He restores in us the government of God. Christ gives to us self-mastery — first and grandest of coronations. Christ restores to us the government of nature. In the beginning man was the vicegerent of God. But that dominion has been broken, and instead of man ruling nature, nature has ruled man, affrighted him, crushed him. But as man recovers self-rule he mysteriously acquires power over all things. Do we not see this in the progress of our Christian civilisation? As men master themselves their relation to nature is changed, they lift themselves out of the stream of physical forces, and attain a wider freedom. Science is only possible through character, and as Christ makes us free from the power of evil we lay our hand on the sea, direct the lightning, and inherit the riches of the world. Christ restores us to an abiding government in the kingdom of the future. We read much in the New Testament about the saints reigning as kings. Christ is to be King in the world of the future, and all who are loyal to Him shall share in the undisputed and everlasting sovereignty.

3. Christ became poor in blessedness. Revelation brings the Deity before us as infinitely blissful. In God is the unutterable bliss springing from perfect knowledge, absolute will, ineffable love, everlasting righteousness. Here, once more, for "our sakes He became poor." And how profoundly poor! He became poor "that we might become rich." What an extraordinary gladness throbbed in the apostles — everywhere in the New Testament we feel the pulsations of a mighty joy! And so it is still with all those whose lives are hid with Christ in God. In the midst of a world of sorrow and death He brings to us the blessedness of celestial worlds. A little while ago I read of a gentleman in the heart of a great city listening to a telephone, when he was surprised to hear the rich music of forest birds. It seemed that the wire passed through the country, and so some way caught the music of the far-away woods and transmitted it to the heart of the black toiling city. Christ has restored the missing chords between heaven and earth, and now in a world of care and conflict, of suffering and tears, we are delighted to catch the echoes of far-off music, to taste the joy unspeakable and full of glory which belongs to the perfect universe. Many of us are poor enough in joy, but it is not our own fault. If we would only claim more of that glorious grace which Christ gives, our peace should flow as a river, our hearts be as a watered garden whose waters fail not.

4. Christ became poor in life. He was rich in life. "He only hath immortality." But for "our sakes He became poor." He shared our mortality. The Rose of Sharon faded as other roses do; the Lily of the Valley withered as lilies nipped by the frost. He did not even attain the poor threescore years and ten. The text assumes the poverty of humanity. Yes, we are poor, paupers indeed. There is a deep destitution under all our displays of knowledge, power, happiness, character. The enrichment of humanity is through the humiliation of Christ. In Him the riches of eternity are poured into the bankrupt life of man. There is no other way to true riches but through Him.

(W. L. Watkinson.)

I. CHRIST BECAME POOR.

1. This cannot mean that He ceased to be the owner and Lord of all things. That sort of limited ownership which the law gives me over what is mine I can renounce. Not so with the absolute ownership of God. The use of them He may lend; His own proprietorship in them He cannot alienate. Still less is it possible to strip oneself of those moral and personal qualities which make up the wealth of one's very nature. Could a Divine Person cease to carry in Himself the unsearchable riches of Divine power, or wisdom, or goodness?

2. Christ became poor in the sense of forbearing to claim His wealth or to avail Himself of it. The nobleman, e.g., who leaves behind him his estates, conceals his rank, and goes abroad to maintain himself on what he can earn by daily labour, becomes poor, not by loss indeed, but by renunciation. What motive could be purer than this, "For your sakes"? What design nobler than this, "That ye through His poverty might be rich"? So Christ's poverty was not an outward condition so much as an inward act. At the most the outward condition only mirrored the inward act. All things were not less truly His own than before; only He refused to assert His right to them, or to enjoy their benefit. And why? That He might make Himself in all things like unto us, His human and fallen brethren.(1) We are creatures who hang upon God with absolute dependence. Is not that poverty — to be derived from, sustained, and led by another? To this Christ stooped. Though inherently equal to the Father, He consented to occupy the position of a creature's inferiority: "My Father is greater than I." Though Maker of the universe, He consented to receive His ability from God: "The Son can do nothing of Himself." Of the infinite treasures which were His, He would not turn so much as a stone to bread to feed His own hunger.(2) There are restrictions under which we are bound to act — the confining bonds of law. No man is free to do whatever he likes. Against this curbing and prescribing law, whether of morals or of social custom, all men fret; and Jewish men in particular were saddled with a yoke of ancient prescriptions peculiarly vexatious. To all this Christ submitted. He became too poor to have a will of His own or be a law unto Himself, for He was "made under the law."(3) Sin has wrought for us a deeper poverty than God meant for men. There is no shame in having nothing but what our Father gives; no shame in being free only to do His will. But there is shame in wearing a life forfeit to the law through criminal transgression. This is poverty indeed. Yet Jesus walked on earth with a forfeited life because He had devoted it to the law. Here was the acme of self-impoverishment. He held not even Himself to be properly His own. On the contrary. He held Himself to be a ransom for our transgression, a price due, a Person doomed.

II. IT IS THIS SPONTANEOUS ABNEGATION WHICH GIVES US THE MORAL KEY TO THAT MYSTERIOUS ATONING LIFE AND DEATH OF THE SON OF GOD. In this act there lay the perfection both of that love which gives and of that humility which stoops and veils itself. It forms the most consummate antithesis to the immoral attitude taken up by our fallen world. This world, being indeed helpless and dependent, yet renounces God, asserts itself, dreams of self-sufficiency. For an answer to such sinful folly, the Son of God, being indeed rich, becomes as poor as the world is. He stoops to show us men our true place. We shall reap no profit from this adopted poverty of His unless we learn of Him how to be poor in spirit before God. For me as for Him the pathway is one of renunciation. My would-be independence of God I must frankly abandon. God's claims I must own as Jesus Christ owned them in my name. The sentence which righteously condemns me I must accept as He accepted it for me. The sacrifice of His costly life I must regard as the due equivalent for my own life, forfeit for my guilt. Then I, too, am poor. I, too, owe everything to God. I am so poor that I am not even my own any more, but His who gave Himself for me; so poor that I do not live any more, for I died in His death; or, if I live, it is no more I, but Christ who liveth in me.

III. THIS CHRIST-LIKE PATH CONDUCTS TO TRUE ENRICHMENT. Compare the Jesus whom John describes in chap. John 19 with the Jesus whom John describes in Revelation

1. On the pavement, in the praetorium, and on the Cross, He let them strip Him. Was ever man stripped so poor as this one, buried at last in a borrowed grave? Look up and see the vision of Patmos. The same Man; but His eyes are a flame of fire, etc. Has not His path through uttermost poverty been a path to boundless wealth? Ponder this comment of St. Paul, and you will know what I mean (Philippians 6:6-11). Such glory as He had with the Father before the world was, He first laid aside that He might be made like unto us, inglorious in all things. Then when He stood among us as our priestly Head on the night when He was betrayed, He asked the Father to give Him back of His grace that same glory which He would not claim by right, saying, "Now, O Father, do Thou glorify Me with Thine own self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was!" Why does He thus stoop to be a petitioner for His own? Because He would receive it on such terms that He may share it with us. Hear Him add (as one who believes that he has what he has asked), "The glory which Thou hast given to Me, I have given to them."

(J. Oswald Dykes, D. D.)

I. THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST. The term "grace" is of common use in the Scriptures, the meaning of which is determined by its connection. It sometimes implies wisdom, "Let no corrupt communication," etc. (Ephesians 4:29). It also signifies power, "My grace is sufficient for thee," etc. (2 Corinthians 12:9). But generally it imports benevolence, favour, love, or goodwill (Romans 5:20; 1 Timothy 1:14). This grace is —

1. Free and generous in its nature. Grace must be liberal and spontaneous, otherwise it is no more grace. Had the conduct of Christ towards man been the result of any overwhelming necessity, it could not, with any propriety, have been denominated grace. All the movements of the Deity are voluntary and free. God never acts necessarily.

2. Unsolicited and unsought on the part of man.

3. Disinterested in its character. Human beings are selfish in their actions. Self-interest sways the multitude, and it is difficult to divest ourselves of this principle: we have generally some interest in all we do, either present pleasure or the expectation of future reward. But the Lord Jesus is the supreme and eternal God, who is infinitely removed from all those low and sordid views by which man is actuated. His actions are perfectly disinterested.

4. Distinguishing in its operations. Two orders of intelligent beings offended their Maker, angels and men. But the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ was displayed to man — fallen, miserable, rebellious man.

5. This grace was made known. "Ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." God hath gloriously displayed it. It was made known to our primitive parents almost as soon as sin entered into the world. It was revealed to Abraham, to Moses, to David, to Isaiah, and all the prophets; for "to Him," namely, to Christ, "give all the prophets witness" (Acts 10:43).

II. CONSIDER THE DISPLAY OF THIS GRACE. "Though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor.

1. He possesed all the incommunicable perfections of the Deity.

2. He possessed all the moral perfections of the Deity. Now thus think upon Christ.

(1)Consider the grandeur of His abode.

(2)Consider the extent of His dominion.

(3)Consider the dignity of His titles.

(4)Consider the number and splendour of His attendants.

(5)Consider the profusion of His liberality. See how He scatters His bounty in every direction. There is not a particle of animated matter that He does not feed.The riches of Christ are widely different from the riches which men possess.(a) His riches are His own, exclusively and eternally. Ours are derived from others. The riches of Christ are His, not derived, not procured, but essential to His nature.(b) Christ's riches are undiminishable and inexhaustible. Ours may be squandered and exhausted.(c) The riches of Christ are illimitable and incomprehensible.But He "became poor," that is —

1. He assumed our nature in its lowliest and most degraded state.

2. He suffered the penalty due to our sin.

III. THE DESIGN FOR WHICH THE GRACE OF CHRIST WAS DISPLAYED.

1. That we might be rich in grace; rich in all the fruits of righteousness.

2. Rich in glory. We shall inherit a glorious place (2 Peter 1:11). We shall be associated with glorious society, and be invested with glorious privileges. These are the true riches in opposition to those of the world, which are treacherous, false, and deceitful. Satisfactory, in opposition to earthly wealth, which cannot satisfy the infinite desires of the mind (Luke 12:15). Imperishable, in opposition to those which wax old and perish in the using. They are riches attainable by all. The good things of this world are possessed by few. The connection between the poverty of Christ and the riches of the Christian may be easily discovered.(1) By the humiliation, sufferings, and death of Christ an atonement was made for sin, and a way of access to God made plain. God is the chief good: man by sin became an alien from Him.(2) By the atonement of Christ all the blessings of grace and glory are procured for us.

(a)From the subject before us we infer how deeply we are indebted to Christ.

(b)We see with what confidence we may come to Christ.

(c)We discover from the text that it is our privilege, no less than our duty, to know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

(R. Treffry.)

In the context we have three facts in relation to Christian philanthropy.

1. That true love for humanity is essentially associated with piety. Paul is speaking of the kindness which the church at Macedonia had shown to the sufferings of the mother-church at Jerusalem. The affection that binds to God will bind to the race.

2. That true love for humanity is an earnest element of character. These Macedonians seem to have been poor and afflicted, probably the subjects of persecution (ver. 2). Their benevolence was not a mere sentiment.

3. That true love for man has in Christianity the highest example. "Ye know the grace," etc. Note that genuine philanthropy —

I. Is IDENTICAL WITH THE LOVE DEVELOPED BY CHRIST. This grace of Christ was —

1. All-embracing. There are some who sympathise with the physical woes of man and overlook the spiritual; some feel for a few, and are regardless of others. But Christ regards the bodies and souls of all men.

2. Perfectly disinterested.

3. Self-sacrificing.

II. SACRIFICES THE MATERIAL FOR THE SPIRITUAL.. "He who was rich," etc.

III. AIMS SUPREMELY AT THE PROMOTION OF SPIRITUAL WEALTH. "That ye through His poverty might be rich." Spiritual wealth is —

1. Absolutely valuable. Material wealth is not so. In some countries and ages it is not of much value. Of what advantage would a handsome fortune be to a savage? But spiritual wealth is valuable here, everywhere, and for ever.

2. Is essentially connected with happiness. There is often great trial in the getting and the keeping of worldly wealth.

3. Is within the reach of all; earthly wealth is not. Conclusion: Observe —(1) That to promote moral wealth requires the sacrifice of secular wealth. Let us suppose that Jesus had not become poor. What would have been the result? The material must be given up to the spiritual.(2) That no sacrifice is too great to promote spiritual wealth. "Christ gave Himself."

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

I. LET US CONSIDER THE ORIGINAL CONDITION OF THE PERSON HERE MENTIONED. "He was rich."

II. HOW THIS ILLUSTRIOUS PERSON ACCOMPLISHED THE PLAN OF OUR REDEMPTION. "He became poor."

III. TO CONSIDER THE PERSONS FOR WHOM THESE SUFFERINGS WERE ENDURED. "For your sakes He became poor."

IV. THE BENEFITS WHICH FLOW THROUGH THE HUMILIATION OF CHRIST.

1. The view which has been taken of Divine grace should awaken your gratitude.

2. The view taken of Divine grace is calculated to beget your confidence.

3. The view taken of Divine grace should constrain you to the diligent use of all the appointed means of grace and salvation.

(W. Thornton.)

(text and Philippians 1:29): —

1. The true test of any action lies in its motive. Many a deed, which seems to be glorious, is really ignoble because it is done with a base intention; while other actions, which appear to be poor, are full of the glory of a noble purpose. The mainspring of a watch is the most important part of it; the spring of an action is everything.

2. The less of self in any effort, the nobler it is. A great work, undertaken from selfish motives, is much less praiseworthy than the feeble endeavour put forth to help other people.

3. We are often told that we should live for the good of others, and we ought to heed the call; but there is so little in our fellow-men to call forth the spirit of self-sacrifice, that if we have no higher motive, we should soon become tired of our efforts on their behalf. Consider —

I. THE MOTIVE OF CHRIST'S WORK. "For your sakes."

1. The august person who died "for your sakes." He was God. "Without Him was not anything made that was made." All the powers of nature were under His control. He might truly say, "If I were hungry I would not tell thee: for the world is Mine, and the fulness thereof." Hymned day without night by all the sacred choristers, He did not lack for praise. Nor did He lack for servants; legions of angels were ever ready to do His commandments. It was God who came from heaven "for your sakes." It was no inferior being, no one like yourselves. If I were told that all the sons of men cared for me, that would be but a drop in a bucket compared with Jehovah Himself regarding me. If it were said that all the princes of the earth had fallen at some poor man's feet, and laid aside their dignities that they might relieve his necessities, such an act would not be worthy to be spoken of in comparison with that infinite condescension and unparalleled love which brought the Saviour from the skies.

2. The insignificant clients on whom all this wealth of affection was poured. If our whole race had been blotted out, He had but to speak the word, and myriads of creatures prompt to obey His will would have filled up the space. But we are not only insignificant, we are also iniquitous. As sinners, we deserve nothing but God's thunderbolts. Many of us, also, were peculiarly sinful. Some of us feel inclined to dispute with Saul of Tarsus for the title, "chief of sinners." It will ever remain a wonder to me that the Son of God should have condescended to die for me.

3. The wondrous work which this master-motive inspired. "For your sakes" the Son of God took into union with Himself our nature, without which He could not have suffered and died. "He became poor." The poverty of a man is reckoned in proportion to the position of affluence from which he has come down. When the Christ of God, the King of kings, the Lord of lords, was forsaken by His Father, deserted by His friends, and left alone to suffer "for your sakes," that was the direst poverty that was ever known. See your Lord beneath the olives of Gethsemane. Then see Him before Herod, Pilate, and Caiaphas. Behold Him, as they lift Him up to suffer the death of the Cross! All this Christ suffered "for your sakes." What love and gratitude ought to fill your heart as you think of all that Jesus bore on your behalf! There is a story of an American gentleman who was accustomed to go frequently to a tomb and plant fresh flowers. When some one asked why he did so, he said that, when the time came for him to go to the war, he was detained by some business, and the man who lay beneath the sod became his substitute and died in the battle. Over that carefully-kept grave he had the words inscribed, "He died for me!" There is something melting in the thought of another dying for you; how much more melting is it when that One is the Christ of Calvary!

4. The comprehensive motive for which He wrought the wondrous work. Everything He was and did was "for your sakes."

II. THE MOTIVE WHICH SHOULD INSPIRE ALL OUR SERVICE FOR HIM. "For His sake." What are we that we should be allowed the high honour of suffering "for His sake"? It is a great privilege to do, or to be, or to bear anything for Him. The thought expressed in these words may be enlarged, and assume six or seven phases.

1. "For righteousness' sake" (Matthew 5:10). If a man suffers as a Christian for doing that which is right, he is suffering for Christ's sake.

2. "For the gospel's sake" (1 Corinthians 9:23). Now, if you are put to any shame for the sake of the gospel, you suffer "for His sake"; and if you labour to spread the gospel you are doing something "for His sake."

3. "For His body's sake, which is the Church" (Colossians 1:24). We ought to do much more than we do for God's people.

4. "For the elect's sakes" (2 Timothy 9:10), i.e., not only those who are in the Church as yet, but those who are to be. Happy is that man who spends his time in seeking out poor wanderers, that he may bring in God's elect.

5. "The kingdom of God's sake" (Luke 18:29). No one who has left aught for it shall fail of present and eternal reward.

6. "For the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us" (2 John 2). It is not merely the gospel we are to defend, but that living seed which the Holy Ghost has put into us, that truth which we have tasted, and handled, and felt; that theology which is not that of the Book only, but that which is written on the fleshy tablets of our hearts. (C. H. Spurgeon.)

Now, therefore, perform the doing of it
There is an eloquence of promise in many men. In the commercial world they excel in promissory notes. In the social world they are the generous distributors of vague invitations guiltless of date. Men stop as pilgrims at the inn of Good Intent, and their position is that of "almost Christians." Notice promises —

I. IN RELATION TO THE KINGDOM OF EVIL. Men do not like to lose sight of the City of God. There is a purpose to be true to Christ some day. They mean well. Mean well! What slave of vice does not do that? But let the soul be brought face to face with the necessity of endeavour, and then De Quincey, when an opium eater, is not more powerless. There is no hope in, "I'll think about it," in a convenient season, in the promise, "when I change my neighbourhood." Now, perform the resolution like a man, for "Now is the accepted time."

II. IN RELATION TO RESPONSIBILITIES.

1. Of gift. "I would give if I were rich." No; if you do not yield God a fair measure of your income now you would not then. It is as easy to be miserly with a hundred a-year as it is with a thousand. God performs. He promised that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, and we see the triumph over evil in the Cross. Christ has promised a prepared place, and our departed ones are now confessing that it was all true.

2. Of service. Service is of many kinds, but there is always a "now" about it. Moreover, performance once honestly commenced tempts out more and more of loyal effort. It is compensative, too, and brings surely its own blest reward. Never mind the initial difficulties. All great men have found them and have mastered them. Begin.

III. IN RELATION TO THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST (ver. 9). In His incarnation He "performed the promise made to our forefathers." His life was one long performance. He performs still. Be ye imitators of Him.

IV. IN RELATION TO THE BOUNTIFULNESS OF GOD. Meditating on our redemption we sing, "Love so amazing," etc. Perform, then, the doing of it.

V. IN RELATION TO INFLUENCES. Actions speak louder than words.

(W. M. Statham.)

I. READINESS, or a willing mind. What is given must be given freely; it must be a gracious offering, not a tax. This is fundamental. The O. T. law is re-enacted. "Of every man whose heart maketh him willing shall ye take the Lord's offering." What we spend in piety and charity is not tribute paid to a tyrant, but the response of gratitude to our Redeemer, and if it has not this character He does not want it. If there be first a willing mind, the rest is easy; if not, there is no need to go on.

II. ACCORDING AS A MAN HAS. Readiness is the acceptable thing, not this or that proof of it. If we cannot give much, then a ready mind makes even a little acceptable. Only let us remember this, that readiness always gives all that is in its power. The readiness of the Macedonians was in the depths of poverty, but they gave "themselves" to the Lord; yet this moving appeal of the apostle has been profaned times innumerable to cloak the meanest selfishness.

III. RECIPROCITY. Paul does not write that the Jews may be released and the Corinthians burdened, but on the principle of equality. At this crisis the superfluity of the Corinthians is to make up what is wanting to the Jews, and at some other the situation will be exactly reversed. Brotherhood cannot be one-sided; it must be mutual, and in the interchange of services equality is the result. This answers to God's design in regard to worldly goods, as that design is indicated in the story of the manna. To be selfish is not the way to get more than your share; you may cheat your neighbour by that policy, but you will not get the better of God. In all probability men are far more nearly on an equality in respect of what their worldly possessions yield, than the rich in their pride, or the poor in their envious discontent would readily believe; but when the inequality is patent and painful — a glaring violation of the Divine intention here suggested — there is a call for charity to redress the balance. Those who give to the poor are cooperating with God, and the more a community is Christianised, the more will that state be realised in which each has what he needs.

(J. Denney, B. D.)

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