Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Reckless Giving for Missions

2 Corinthians 9:2 KJV
For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.

Mention is made of three places in this context:
  • Macedonia
  • Achaia and (as his audience)
  • Corinth
All of these were under the Roman government and, because they were all in the West, closely attached to Rome. Between the death of Christ (33 AD) and the death of Apostle John, near the end of the first century, Rome went through eleven Caesars, every one of them were either murdered or committed suicide.

This is in a period of great unrest in Rome. Caesar Claudius was in power when Paul first went to Corinth, but it was a tense power, gained almost surely by his owning aiding in the assassination of his predecessor, Caligula. Claudius was the black Sheep of his family and was himself assassinated after thirteen years (by his wife). He was followed by Nero, who burnt Rome so he could build a larger palace. Nero committed suicide and was followed by four empowers in one year.

It was in all of this turmoil that Paul asks these believers to prepare an offering to be delivered to needy saints in Jerusalem - an area even more heavily impacted by the troubles of Rome. Paul, for all practical purposes, ignores the political climate of his day, focusing instead on the need rather than the obstacles.

This makes a brilliant application when we look at our own circumstances. It could be argued that these are days to be turning inward.
  • Our government has spent itself (and us along with it) into near oblivion
  • The cause of Christ is being denigrated in our land to such an extent that some are calling the U.S. a new missions field
  • Jobs are scarcer now than they have been I think in thirty years
But if we follow the Pauline pattern we ignore those circumstances in favor of focusing on the need.

Notice that Paul was aware of the hardships many of these people faced. He said they gave out of deep poverty and affliction. But they still gave. Now that is missions giving.
  • Focusing on the needs of another
  • Planning ahead so we can help with the need
  • Giving by faith trusting that God will provide for us and
  • Praising God for the example of others giving with us.
It is reckless abandonment of the cares of this world in order to see another have the opportunity to reach souls with the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.

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