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At this point, let’s look at 2 Corinthians 8:11-15. The key word in this particular passage — and even throughout 2 Corinthians 8-9 — is “readiness.” We see it in verses 11 and 12: “So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have.” Now really drink deep verse 12: “For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have” (2 Corinthians 8:11-12, ESV).
The King James Version translates this well when they say, “When there is first a willing mind.” The word in which readiness (ESV) and “willing mind” comes from denotes a zeal, a spirit, and eagerness and a seriousness toward a particular activity. The seriousness, the eagerness, and the readiness found in giving must not be simply done in theory as we do in theory so many other things. We know if theory that we should read our Bibles — but what about in practice? We know in theory we should pray, give, and go on missions — but what about in practice? What about witnessing? Prayer? The list goes on. And giving could well be added to the list.
Truth is, the seriousness to which we hold a particular activity is only seen in how it affects our lives — what we actually do with our eagerness. And our eagerness and readiness is contagious and infectious. Look with me at 2 Corinthians 9:1-5:
Now it is superfluous for me to write to you about the ministry for the saints, 2 for I know your readiness, of which I boast about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year. And your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove vain in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be. 4 Otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated- to say nothing of you- for being so confident. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance for the gift you have promised, so that it may be ready.
Paul boasted to the people of Macedonia (the ones he used as an example to the Corinthian church) about the Corinthians giving. He told them in 8:12 to finish what you started — turn your zeal into action, turn your seriousness into service, turn your readiness into reality. Paul began bragging and boasting about their generosity. He was bragging to them about their zeal and readiness, as he mentioned in 2 Corinthians 8 — he’s saying, “Don’t let us down — follow through.”
Paul sees this as a serious matter — and my friends, we should as well. Reputations about churches and religious organizations get around quickly. And it seems as if those in our community know quite well what we believe (after all, they hear us talk about it), but do we follow through?
Consider our church covenant. When you join our church, either by coming to Christ or by transferring from one church to another, you agree to our church covenant which outlines how we believe we should Scripturally treat one another. One paragraph clearly states that we are called “to contribute Scripturally to the support of the ministry, the expense of the church, the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel to all nations.” I’ve asked this before, but were you aware we had a church covenant? Were you aware that this is what you agreed to do? Did we take it seriously?
Sadly, we only take it seriously when something serious comes up (building committee reports, missions efforts, when the general fund is down, etc.). But your giving to “the support of the ministry, the expense of the church, the relief of the poor and the spread of the Gospel” may seem ordinary, mundane, day-to-day, nothing special. But this is a when done with the understanding of the seriousness that should accompany such acts of worship, this can be a blessed thing before the Lord.
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