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September 21, 2010

Giving in Jesus

 Fitting for Me Today

“and if it is fitting for me to go also, they will go with me.”

1 Corinthians 16:4, page 1803

     Paul had traveled all over the Mediterranean world.  As part of God’s global ministry team, Paul and his friends in Christ traveled under the direction of the Holy Spirit.  At times, the Holy Spirit prohibited the ministry team from entering certain places, while specifically directing them to new places.  You may recall the Macedonian vision  (Acts 16:1-13, page 1731), where the Holy Spirit told the team not to continue in the Roman area of Asia, but rather to go to Macedonia work there.  Today, the Holy Spirit provides very specific guidance not only for travel, but also for travel and giving together.

       In 1 Corinthians 16:4, Paul indicates that he wants to go to Corinth, again, to see the saints there.  You should always remember when you read the New Testament that the term “saint” refers to a believer, and not some special believer.  All believers were saints, and in fact, they still are.  Paul has just explained that the Corinthians should prepare their gift to the saints in Jerusalem, and they should “approve” someone to take the gift personally.  Now Paul shifts the focus to himself, and raises the possibility that he may also accompany them to Jerusalem.

Principle of Giving:

Sometimes Delivering Gifts Unites

Believers in Journeys

       Paul had this keen sense that God controlled his schedule, and when and where he would be going.  As you read through 1 Corinthians 16:5-9, you see that Paul stayed where “doors” for effective service opened for him, even if he had many adversaries there.  In 1 Corinthians 16:4, Paul discusses the opportunity to travel to Jerusalem accompanied by the Corinthian messengers.  One part of discipleship will also involve spending time with each other, especially time doing things that have spiritual benefit to other believers.

Principle of Giving:

Flexibility in Delivering Gifts

Unites Believers

       Paul does not demand that the Corinthian delegation to Jerusalem travel with him, but left it as “and if it is fitting” (“ἐὰν δὲ ἄξιον“).  Part of giving means that each local assembly decides about how much and when to give, but giving also unites people throughout the world.   If you have ever read the epistle of 1 Corinthians, then you know that the Corinthians, as a group, were “fleshly” babes in Christ, divided, distorted, and drunk at times.   Yet, these same people had a lot of spiritual activity, and also united around sharing gifts with Jerusalem.    If it works out for the Corinthians and for Paul, they can travel together.  If not, Paul will send letters with them.  The point here is flexibility.    Notice here that the needs of Jerusalem were strong enough that Paul raised funds for them in the churches abroad, but then he did not feel so compelled to act now that he said drop everything and send the gift without him.   Apparently, the poor in Jerusalem needed ongoing support, and the support could be provided over time.  This principle of flexibility in giving and delivering gifts should always be kept in mind. 

        ●   So, we learn some more about giving in Christ.

        ●  We learn that giving includes flexibility in delivering gifts to friends in Christ, and also unites people in fellowship.

        ●  We learn to give better by allowing our gifts to be sent along by people willing to go, and who will be a blessing to the recipients.

       ●  We hinder our giving when do not allow for flexibility on passing gifts along, or when we insist on doing everything our own personal way.  Sometimes, we need to accommodate the needs of our friends in Christ in delivering the gifts, especially when it comes to timing.  

Application for Today

        Today, I want to encourage my friends not only to give, but also to take greater interest in how the gifts are used and delivered for the glory of God.  Do you know where your gifts are going today?

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