“Here is my advice: It would be good for you to finish what you started a year ago. Last year you were the first who wanted to give, and you were the first to begin doing it. Now you should finish what you started. Let the eagerness you showed in the beginning be matched now by your giving. Give in proportion to what you have. Whatever you give is acceptable if you give it eagerly. And give according to what you have, not what you don’t have. Of course, I don’t mean your giving should make life easy for others and hard for yourselves. I only mean that there should be some equality. Right now you have plenty and can help those who are in need. Later, they will have plenty and can share with you when you need it. In this way, things will be equal. As the Scriptures say, “Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough.”” 2 Corinthians 8:10-15 NLT
We should always keep our commitments and finish what we start. The Corinthians had apparently started to receive a collection for the poor saints in Jerusalem the year prior. They had intentions to do this kind deed but had not fulfilled their intention. It is so easy to get caught up in a moment and respond with great enthusiasm. In those moments, we have lofty intentions but, somehow, we get distracted and lose our zeal to perform what we had committed ourselves to. I read a statement years ago that said: "One kind deed is worth a thousand grand intentions". I've also heard the statement: "Hell is full of great intentions".
The need of the suffering saints was real and needed prompt attention. The Corinthians had the means but they lacked the follow through. Paul reminded them of the exodus. In Exodus 16:18 the children of Israel were provided for by God. Each day they would gather the manna that was placed upon the ground by God. They could not be selfish and gather more than they needed for each day except on Friday when they could collect enough for the upcoming sundown to sundown Sabbath. Trying to heap up treasures and stockpile supplies is not God's intentions for us. We must depend upon God one day at a time. Sure, there is nothing wrong with prudence and preparation. We must not, however, become dependent on our resources. We must depend on His. He is the provider of all that we know and enjoy!
How many good intentions of getting in church, giving a tithe, or reaching out to others in need get sidelined by our unwillingness to do what we know is right. We live in a country that has known the greatest prosperity in world history and yet we have "Christians" that say they identify with the church and they do not fulfill their duty to give. We absorb ourselves in comfort and pleasure while God's Church and His people are left to simply try to survive. This is disgusting and outright sinful. How can we say we know and love the God, who saved us from eternal damnation, and not be committed to furthering His kingdom? How can we see our brothers and sisters in need and do nothing about it? (See I John 3:16-18). These questions cry out for answers from the depth of our souls. Do we recognize the grace of God upon our lives that has saved us and provided for us so we can fulfill His kingdom work or do we think He has prospered us so we can live in luxury and self absorbed pleasures until we die? This idea of "The American Dream" needs to change in the heart of every Christian. It isn't about "living the life" here in America, it is about "living to live again" in eternity. Let's give what we can't keep to gain what we can't lose. The rich man walked away sorrowful because his heart was in his riches rather than in God. (see Matthew 19:16-24). He was a religious man but void and empty spiritually. Where are you today? Are you pursuing a dream of retirement at the beach, in the mountains, or somewhere else? Why don't you simply stop and ask God what He wants you to do and where He wants you be. Has that ever occurred to you?
Much like the Corinthians, we are blessed in so many ways, yet we have lost our purpose in the midst of our prosperity. Our prosperity in this temporary world is not meant for us to hold onto. It is given to us, by God, to do His ministry while we are here and invest in the eternal life that awaits the born again child of God. Will it take a tragedy, a near death experience, or even a financial earthquake to shake us to our senses? God is calling us to trust Him and obey Him. Are you one of those who is "all in"? Can God trust you with His resources? After all, it's not yours. It is all His!!!
Prayer for today: Father, in Jesus name, help me to understand that all I have is Yours. I am just a manager of Your resources. Help me to honor You with what You put in my hands.
Rev. Curtis Norris