For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich (2Cor. 8:9).
What an exchange! Christ exchanged his riches for our poverty . Firstly, Christ’s riches is not in a material terms. When he walked on earth, there was no indication he was a rich wealthy man. He came humbly into our human history. Christ’s riches therefore can’t mean riches as we define it in our material world — wealth and prosperity. What then is it?
Christ’s riches is simply the glory of his divinity. On earth, he was God tabernacled among us.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (Jn. 1:14)
He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature (Heb.1:3)
For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily (Col 2:9).
Secondly, Christ emptied “…himself, by taking the form of a servant…born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Phil.2:6-8). Though He was God, Christ became man. He laid down his rights as God to live among humanity. The riches therefore is his divinity and his poverty can be seen as his humanity—the humility of becoming a man. He laid no claim to his divinity while on earth. He died the most wretched death in human history.
Sinners, compared to God’s glory revealed in Christ are wretched, sinful beings separated from him by sin. In that sense, we are poor, not in the sense of the lack of material wealth; but rather, in their alienation from the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). God is Holy. We are unholy, full of sin. Not only that, sins must be justly paid for or be punished by a Just and Holy God. We are destitute, wretched and poor. We are doomed for all eternity without help. That’s our poverty: “But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:3-7).
God didn’t leave sinners in their wretched state. He made a way. He gave Christ as a ransom for sins.
Now in 2 Corinthians 8, Paul was making an ‘appeal for funds’ for suffering believers in Jerusalem. In this appeal, he exhorts on giving; what he calls “this act of grace (v.6). Citing Christ’s example of giving himself to sinners, Paul encourages the Corinthians to give according to the pattern of Christ giving himself for our sins. In Christ’s death; there was a spiritual exchange—our sins for his righteousness. He delivered us from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. This exchange reconciled us to God.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire” (2Pet. 1:3-4).
When we come to Christ by faith, we are empowered to have dominion over sin. We no more walk fulfilling the desires of the flesh. We are made children of God (Jn.1:12-13) and partakers of the divine nature.