March 23rd, 2012 : By Jason Holtgrewe
“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” (2 Corinthians 8:7, MSG).
In this verse, Paul is speaking to the Christians in Corinth. He’s describing things they do well: they trust God, they’re articulate, insightful, passionate, and they love Paul and his traveling companions. He’s also encouraging them to do something they don’t do well: to follow through on donating the money they promised to give.
At this time, the Christians in Jerusalem are going through a tough time. Persecution, famine, and back-braking taxes by the Roman Empire left them extremely poor. They’re in great financial need at the moment.
So Paul writes the Corinthians and says, “Hey, remember all the money you promised to give? Now’s the time to follow through on your commitment.”
A promise kept is good in any time, but sometimes it’s really good. Sometimes it’s more important you come through like you said. Because timing can be everything.
The Corinthians were good at many things–and Paul wants them to feel good about those things and makes a point to highlight them. But sometimes what we’re good at can get in the way of what’s needed. If we focus only on what we’re good at, we can miss what matters in the moment.
At Connection, we’re doing a series of blogs on “listening.” Listening is so important because if you say you care for those in need, you need to first listen to understand what they’re needs are.
Because if you don’t listen, caring for the needy is probably more about you than them.
Listening is one reason I started mentoring for Big Brothers Big Sisters. I don’t think mentoring would have been my first choice of things to do, but after hearing how bad fatherlessness is and how much it can make a difference, I thought I’d give it a shot. And even though I sometimes wonder if I’m connecting with the 2nd grader I meet with and if I’m really making a difference in his life, I’ve loved the experience so far.
But mentoring is just one way to answer one kind of need.
What are other needs in our world?
What are the needs of those in your life? In your family? In your circle of friends? At work? In your neighborhood? In your city? These are question we’re trying to answer as a community because we want to make a difference. It’s why we’ve devoted the month of March to talk about what it looks like to be missional. Not just to occasionally do a good work but to commit our lives partnering with God to heal this world.
But being missional is more than simply meeting a need. One reason Paul asked the Corinthians to give money to Jerusalem is because the Corinthians we’re rich. Paul says “your abundance at the present time should supply [Jerusalem’s] need” (v.14, ESV).
So another thing to listen to, besides the needs of others, is our own blessing. Where has God made me rich? What gifts has he given me? Who am I? How can I serve others as an honest expression of who I am?
May we, as individuals and as a community, listen. May we listen carefully–so we can both hear what the need is and how we can best respond.