Reading for Thursday, Sept 27: 2 Cor 8
In this chapter, Paul encourages the Corinthians to consider their practice of giving. He mentions “the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia” (v1). Despite their severe financial limitations, these brethren have given beyond their means to assist in the relief of the saints. Paul sees this as a direct implication of giving one’s whole self over to the Lord (v5). Titus has engaged in a ministry of encouragement, calling the Corinthians to excel in this area of their walk (v6-7).
For Paul, giving is considered “an act of grace.” Thus, he does not command the Corinthians in this matter (v8), but rather he appeals to the mercies they have experienced in Christ as the animating principle for their contribution. “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,” (v9). Paul writes to encourage the Corinthians to complete the good work of assistance they have already begun.
Paul commends Titus to this work, an earnest man who takes this ministry up of his own accord (v17). “With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel,” (v18). This mysterious preacher is unknown to us. In our age of celebrity-addiction, even our preachers and pastors often assume a “larger than life” role in our churches. Yet, this “famous” preacher is the temple for the truly humble minister — the man whose message endures much longer than his name and reputation. As a full-time minister, I find this to be an incredibly salient point. May the Lord forgive us when we seek the limelight for selfish gain. May we only seek to shine the eternal Light into dark places, that Jesus Christ alone might receive all praise, glory, and honor.