Monday, February 17, 2014

Reaping a Harvest

2 Corinthians 9:6-11

To encourage the church in Corinth to give in support of the needs of the poor church in Jerusalem, Paul expands here on a well-known proverb that one reaps what they sow. His teaching here (and plenty of other Bible passages) is often misused to promote giving for the sake of more material gain for the giver. However, God's focus when one gives is on the condition of the heart- with her willingness and disposition in the act (v.7). The promise of what abounds to the giver isn't more possessions, but grace (v.8) which produces a harvest of good works (v.8) and righteousness (v.10) to the praise of God (v.11). Might this include the blessing of material things? It could, so that others will be blessed through the increase of those things, and God, who supplied the seed for the sower, will be glorified. So, we should give generously and cheerfully as a people whose deep desire is not greedy gain, as if our true joy is found there, but as those who love to gain more grace that abounds to increase praise to the Lord.

"...whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written,

“He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever.”

He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. (2 Corinthians 9:6-11 ESV)

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Father's Delight

"...each one will receive his commendation from God" (1 Corinthians 4:5)

1    Children obey their fathers for various reasons. There are times when they obey out of fear of punishment. There are times when they comply because they know it is right for a child to submit to a parent's authority. Then there are others where they obey so they can have favor over another sibling. But the best form of obedience is when they act simply because they love the delight of their father. They rejoice in His smile, his approval, his warmth, and his joy. There is no greater pinnacle than to receive commendation from God, to see the pleasure that he takes in His children. Why would I or any one of you ever be worthy to receive praise from God? You beam with delight when earthly fathers smile upon you or when your boss commends your work, but reflect on the magnitude of Almighty God commending you, praising you, even acknowledging you. We'll be swallowed up in the joy of our Father, who alone is our boast. I recently witnessed this first hand in my own home. While playing indoor hockey with one of my daughters, who probably enjoys my company as much as anyone, she hurt me with one of the sticks. I got angry, and though I quickly told her I was fine and that I was sorry for getting upset, our time was ruined. She didn't want to play, disappeared for a time, and when she reappeared, was still upset. After some digging to see what was going on, I eventually realized her sadness wasn't from hurt feelings because of the anger I showed. It was that she had, for a time, lost the joy and delight of her Father, and this hurt her on a deeper level than any punishment I could give. My hope is to cultivate, in my own life and in the life of my family, a deeper delight in God. Not simply for His benefits, but in His person- that on that Day my greatest joy will be, as a son, in his delight and praise, because I have been joined to the person and work of The Son, Jesus Christ.