Thursday, 7 January 2016
And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. 2 Corinthians 12:15
Paul just noted that the parents should save up for their children. As he considered the church at Corinth as his children in the faith, he explains what this then means. To him, it wasn’t just saving up a bit and considering the job done. Instead, he says that he “…will very gladly spend and be spent.” The Greek word for “spend,” dapanaó, is used to indicate the incurring of an expense or even to waste one’s money entirely. It is used that way in Luke 15 in the parable of the lost son. He wasted all of his money in a foreign land and became needy.
Adding onto that thought, he next uses the Greek word ekdapanaó. It is the same word with the prefix ek, or “out” attached to it. Thus it is to be completely exhausted or to spend out completely. It is used just this one time in Scripture, and is given to show the great length Paul was willing to go to in order to minister to the Corinthians. In this expenditure, he notes that it is “for your souls.”
He wasn’t worried about their physical needs, their desires, or any such thing. Instead, he was concerned about their spiritual relationship with the Lord. To him, this is where his efforts were to be focused. And it is evident from his letters that this is exactly where his heart and attention were directed.
He finishes this thought with, “… though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved.” This is certainly a rebuke towards them. The more attention he doted on them, and the harder he worked in order to not be any burden to them, it appeared that they came to love him less. There seemed to be an increasing ingratitude in them that welled up with his continued attention towards them.
Life application: Paul’s words in this verse show us that there should not be a set of scales in front of us as we minister to others. If there were, when the balances tipped to one side or another, we would change our level of attention and devotion each time we encountered them. If you, for example, do mission work in the downtown slums or projects, you can never expect any sort of reciprocity in your care of the downtrodden you are ministering to. As a Bible teacher, you may be teaching the spiritually downtrodden. In the same manner, why would you expect them to respond with a great return on the spiritual lessons you impart? Be willing to expend everything for those you minister to. The Lord does see and He will reward.
Lord Jesus, grant to us hearts like Yours. Help us to be willing to spend ourselves, even to the point of being expended if necessary, in order to minister to those who are in need. There are so many who either could never repay, or who simply will never repay, the kindness shown to them. But give us the desire to keep on giving in order to lead them to You. In the end, this life is temporary, but the one You offer is eternal. Help us to keep things in that perspective. Amen.