Living a “Round Up” Kind of Life
MEREDITH HOUSTON CARR
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity.” 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 (NIV)
“Ma’am, would you like to round up your total in support of a children’s charity?”
My distracted mind was in such a hurry I had to ask the grocery clerk to repeat her question. In fact, I had almost said “no”out of habit, as I’ve done plenty of times before. But a catch in my spirit stopped me that day.
As I tackled the rest of my to-do list, I ruminated on the idea of “rounding up” and wondered: Where else in my life can I do that? And what would it look like if I did?
That day, God began challenging me to think differently about what a generous life looks like.
We hear the word “generosity” and often envision grand gestures like writing hefty checks or making sizable donations. Then we compare that to our humble lives and bank accounts and feel small and incapable of making a difference in our problem-riddled world.
And in that haze of helplessness, the enemy loves to whisper that what we have to offer isn’t enough. Rounding up won’t make a difference. Why even bother?
But what if a generous life isn’t limited to writing giant checks? What if it looks more like rounding up where we can — offering up our time and energy, speaking words of affirmation and prayer, and using our God-given gifts when an opportunity arises?
God doesn’t ask us to effect change on our own. Instead, He places us among a body of like-minded people, the Church, who are committed to following Jesus — our ultimate example of generosity! Jesus lacked a savings account, yet He graciously poured out wisdom, healing and love. (2 Corinthians 8:9) He doled out truth and forgiveness daily. Jesus rounded up whenever He could and inspired others to do the same.
Today’s key verses contain another example of round-up lives in action. Here, the Apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthians by praising the generosity of fellow believers in Macedonia:
“And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2).
These Macedonians show us what it looks like when the transformative grace of God turns our insufficiency into more than enough.
Significantly, they didn’t let trials or worldly poverty stop them from living generously. Instead, they faithfully gave what they could — and as a result, Scripture memorializes them for their charitable lives, not their lack.
Today, you and I can do likewise — even when our bank accounts disappoint or we think we have nothing to offer.
We can choose to round up our words of encouragement, intentionally investing into others’ lives. We can imitate Jesus and round up to give extra forgiveness and grace. We can humbly offer our God-given talents for the good of others.
Dear Jesus, thank You for generously loving us. Grant us the courage to do likewise and live openhanded like You today! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.