October 11, 2012 by Chris French
When Paul was in Corinth he didn’t make the new church support him. He had every right to ask them to give him material things since he was giving them spiritual things, but he refused that right…even though he didn’t have money to buy food (2nd Cor. 11.9). Eventually he asked the other churches he had set up earlier to provide for his needs during his stay in Corinth (look at 2nd Cor. 11.8), so he wouldn’t have to burden the new Corinthian church. It’s been several years since Paul first met the Corinthians and this is his 3rd letter to them. Apparently he wrote four, but we’ve only got these 2 left, one of which was a “severe” letter where Paul was forced to demand repentance on the Corinthian’s part.
Earlier in this letter (2nd Cor. 9) Paul is telling the church at Corinth that fairly soon he will be sending Titus to them, along with some others he doesn’t name, to make sure that they’ve set aside money to help the Christians in Jerusalem. Apparently Corinth got in on the ground floor of this ministry. They were so excited about giving that some of the churches in Macedonia (Thessalonica, Phillipi and Berea for example) caught their enthusiasm and started giving to the Jerusalem Christians. Now the time has come for Corinth to pony up and have their own contribution ready. Just in case Paul is sending Titus’ delegation ahead of him to make sure the Corinthians haven’t “forgotten” about the needs of their brothers in Jerusalem.
Chapter 9 is full of the blessings of giving and the return for the Corinthian’s generosity, but Paul is very clear. They had better have some money to send to the church at Jerusalem. Which brings me to an interesting thought. When Paul wasn’t able to feed himself he just went hungry until help could come from some other converts, but when other believers need help it falls to the Corinthians, and all the churches, to spread their wealth among their poor. Why the difference? By this time the Corinthians have progressed in their faith far enough to not only support their preacher, but also to help the brothers. Paul is expecting them to be generous toward the church in Jerusalem and happy to do it. They should have been growing inside of Christ, taking on His traits, one of which is generosity, until the point now that they were ready to relieve the struggles of people they had never met because those people were in God’s family.
The take-a-away from this is that I need to be growing…quickly. The Corinthians didn’t have decades to grow into this type of Christian. They had to be growing fast. I think a lot of people fall into the trap of believing that they’ve got years to mature into the Christian God wants them to be. The fact is that we’ve got our own version of the Jerusalem church in our society today and we don’t have the luxury to wait on our maturity. People need help now. Who will help them? It won’t be the next person to see them in need. It’s you. Go. Be generous!