Friday, 23 October 2015
Therefore I thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time, and prepare your generous gift beforehand, which you had previously promised, that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation. 2 Corinthians 9:5
In this verse, Paul uses the idea of “before” three times – “go to you ahead of time;” “your generous gift beforehand;” and “previously promised.” This triple repetition demonstrates that he was considerably involved in this process in order to avoid any hint that he had embellished his words to the Macedonians, or that he could not trust the previous promises of the Corinthians. His intent was to have everything ready before those from Macedonia arrived. Should they find things were not as promised, everyone involved in the process would have some sort of bad feelings towards the collection of this gift.
For this reason, Paul “thought it necessary to exhort the brethren to go to you ahead of time.” Actually, Titus was more than willing to go, even eager. But Paul also wanted the others to go with him to ensure that everything was handled in a proper manner. This is obviously a large gift and so more than one delegate was proper.
His sending of them then was to “prepare your generous gift beforehand.” As noted, having it ready before his arrival with the Macedonians was of the highest importance to him. His stress in this verse cannot be underestimated, especially with the next words “which you had previously promised.” They had spoken in promise and Paul was reminding them of this. If this were not true, then he could not have written that they had promised. And so his words are a reminder to them of this.
Having said that, the reminder is necessary because of his final words which say, “…that it may be ready as a matter of generosity and not as a grudging obligation.” Should he arrive and the gift not be ready, he could rightly state in front of all of the visiting guests, “You promised this gift and others were motivated by your promise. Now you are reneging on the very promise which prompted them to give, even beyond their means.” Should he speak in such a manner, they would be shamed into giving out of “grudging obligation.” When he and the money departed for Jerusalem, there would be shame rather than honor left behind for them to wallow in.
The specificity in this verse is a clear and evident indication of Paul’s true heart for every part of the process to be smooth, honorable, and edifying for all involved.
Life application: Hindsight is 20/20, but with careful thought and contemplation, it is not always necessary to say, “Oh I wish I had….” Instead, by taking the time to think important issues through, pitfalls can be avoided through tact and diplomacy.
Lord God, give us the ability to look forward through difficult issues and to properly evaluate the best way of handling them in advance. Help us to be people that don’t just run into situations without thought or care, but to ask ourselves what is the most honorable and proper way to handle them. Grant us this that we might avoid bringing trouble to ourselves and having a negative view of You arise in the eyes of others. Amen.