OFFERING

For thirteen years of my life, part of the work God called me to do involved taking college-age students to various mission fields to learn and grow in their own faith while coming alongside missionaries and national leaders in their work.  This quickly became the heart of my ministry as a denominational leader.  To watch “kids” grow before my very eyes by taking them out of what was comfortable to what challenged their belief and behavior systems was great joy for me.  Our love for all the people on the field we met grew deep as we worked hard alongside each other.  We shared with each other, learning from each other equally.  We prayed with each other passionately.  We saw the richness of their faith which deepened our own faith.

But then, one day, God spoke to my heart through a letter sent by one of those pastors from Haiti with whom we ministered alongside.  I will never forget this beautiful letter that appeared on my desk, a few months upon returning from that country of desolation and poverty.  He not only sent a letter of thanks for joining him in God’s work there, he sent an offering to further God’s work!  Though desperately poor, he was incredibly happy to give!

Tears flowed.  My heart was greatly moved by this sacrificially offering from this man who loved God back in this way but was barely making it in a country of poverty.  How rich he is, indeed, was my first thought.  I had been to his home, fellowshipped with his family and worshipped with him in his church.  He helped us in so many ways understand the Haitian way of thinking so we could tell the gospel in the best ways.  I had grown to love and admire Pastor with great love for his family.  Now my respect, love and admiration grew deeper still.  He gave from a cheerful heart as God desires, wanting to give what he could. 

Paul, I get it!  I understand and feel your joy as people are so touched by what God has done for them, they give whatever they can because they realize all belongs to God.  I also understand the test of our faith is what we give back from a heart that belongs unreservedly to God.

How “rich” in faith are we? 

That is a personal question that deserves prayerful thought.  (Take all the time you need.  I am.)

CORINTHIANS—CALLED AND SENT

2 Corinthians 8, The Message

The Offering

1-4 Now, friends, I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches in Macedonia province. Fierce troubles came down on the people of those churches, pushing them to the very limit. The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor. The pressure triggered something totally unexpected: an outpouring of pure and generous gifts. I was there and saw it for myself. They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.

5-7 This was totally spontaneous, entirely their own idea, and caught us completely off guard. What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives. That’s what prompted us to ask Titus to bring the relief offering to your attention, so that what was so well begun could be finished up. You do so well in so many things—you trust God, you’re articulate, you’re insightful, you’re passionate, you love us—now, do your best in this, too.

8-9 I’m not trying to order you around against your will. But by bringing in the Macedonians’ enthusiasm as a stimulus to your love, I am hoping to bring the best out of you. You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.

10-20 So here’s what I think: The best thing you can do right now is to finish what you started last year and not let those good intentions grow stale. Your heart’s been in the right place all along. You’ve got what it takes to finish it up, so go to it. Once the commitment is clear, you do what you can, not what you can’t. The heart regulates the hands. This isn’t so others can take it easy while you sweat it out. No, you’re shoulder to shoulder with them all the way, your surplus matching their deficit, their surplus matching your deficit. In the end you come out even. As it is written,

Nothing left over to the one with the most,
Nothing lacking to the one with the least.

I thank God for giving Titus the same devoted concern for you that I have. He was most considerate of how we felt, but his eagerness to go to you and help out with this relief offering is his own idea. We’re sending a companion along with him, someone very popular in the churches for his preaching of the Message. But there’s far more to him than popularity. He’s rock-solid trustworthy. The churches handpicked him to go with us as we travel about doing this work of sharing God’s gifts to honor God as well as we can, taking every precaution against scandal.

20-22 We don’t want anyone suspecting us of taking one penny of this money for ourselves. We’re being as careful in our reputation with the public as in our reputation with God. That’s why we’re sending another trusted friend along. He’s proved his dependability many times over, and carries on as energetically as the day he started. He’s heard much about you, and liked what he’s heard—so much so that he can’t wait to get there.

23-24 I don’t need to say anything further about Titus. We’ve been close associates in this work of serving you for a long time. The brothers who travel with him are delegates from churches, a real credit to Christ. Show them what you’re made of, the love I’ve been talking up in the churches. Let them see it for themselves!

TEARS OF JOY EXPRESSED—

  • I want to report on the surprising and generous ways in which God is working in the churches
  • The trial exposed their true colors: They were incredibly happy, though desperately poor.
  • They gave offerings of whatever they could—far more than they could afford!—pleading for the privilege of helping out in the relief of poor Christians.
  • What explains it was that they had first given themselves unreservedly to God and to us. The other giving simply flowed out of the purposes of God working in their lives.
  • In the end you come out even. As it is written,

Nothing left over to the one with the most,
Nothing lacking to the one with the least.

  • You are familiar with the generosity of our Master, Jesus Christ. Rich as he was, he gave it all away for us—in one stroke he became poor and we became rich.

Lord,

YOU provide all we have and all we are.  YOU became poor and by your sacrifice we became rich.  YOU created all, you are in all, so you own all.  Everything we have comes from You.  It is not how much we have but how much we are willing to give that makes us “rich”.  You have assigned each of us as managers.  Lord, help us to own and appreciate that privilege while growing spiritually responsible for all you have given us to manage in Your Name, For Your Glory, Amen. 

You have proven yourself faithful to me over and over again.  Thank you, Lord.

About randscallawayffm

Randy and Susan co founded Finding Focus Ministries in 2006. Their goal as former full time pastors, is to serve and provide spiritual encouragement and focus to those on the "front lines" of ministry. Extensive experience being on both sides of ministry, paid and volunteer, on the mission fields of other countries as well as the United States, helps them bring a different perspective to those who need it most. Need a lift? Call us 260 229 2276.
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