Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have. (2 Corinthians 8:11-12 NIV)
Always under promise and over deliver. Never over promise and under deliver. I can’t count how many times I repeated these expressions to either myself or my team mates over the years. I realized as I read Paul’s words this morning how dangerous these expressions are.
When I under promise and over deliver I’m hoping that the person I’m making a commitment to will be pleased and reward me for exceeding their expectations. This assumes that while I know the game I’m playing they don’t. This doesn’t work with God.
God expects us to do what we have willingly said we are going to do. No more and no less. In the Old Testament the tithe can be perceived as a tax. It wasn’t because God owns everything already, but it certainly doesn’t come across as voluntary. Paul’s wording here makes it clear that our free will is essential if what we give is to be acceptable to God. God does not force us to give, but once we have committed to give we are expected to follow through on that commitment.
Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.” (2 Corinthians 8:13-15 NIV)
This is one of the most challenging concepts in the New Testament. Paul couldn’t have imagined the kind of economic inequality that exists in our world today. In our own state the homeless problem grows day by day yet throwing money at the problem doesn’t seem to resolve the issue. If we expand our view and look globally there are still over a billion people attempting to live on less than $2.50 a day. While Paul couldn’t imagine our world, I think his call to us would be the same. When drought, famine, or disease strike an area of the world we have a responsibility to utilize the resources God has given us to help. I’m grateful for organizations like International Disaster Emergency Service for providing an efficient way to send help through local missionaries and churches to people in need.
To my grandchildren:
Do what you say you’re going to do. Practice sharing every chance you get.