After his conversion, the apostle Paul took up the mission to bring the gospel to the Gentile world. The success God gave him raised significant questions about the relationship between the Jewish roots of the emerging Christian faith and the new Gentile followers of Jesus. A council of Jewish and Gentile Christian leaders met in Jerusalem to discuss the matter and seek God’s guidance in relation to these complicated questions. The meeting and its outcomes are recorded in Acts chapter 15.
However, in Paul’s report of this meeting found in Galatians 2, he adds another important element to the instructions he received from the Jerusalem council for his continuing ministry among the Gentiles: “All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I had been eager to do all along” (Gal. 2:10, NIV).
And Paul continued to pursue this focus personally (see, for example, Acts 20:35) and throughout his ministry. Like the early church in Jerusalem, Paul expanded the vision of the Christian community to embrace all fellow believers.
Read 2 Corinthians 8:7-15. How does Paul link the gospel and giving generously?
Paul also drew on two Old Testament references to urge the believers to generosity and care for their fellow believers in difficult circumstances. He cited the story of God’s generous provision of manna to the Israelites in the wilderness as a model of giving and sharing among the wider church community (see 2 Cor. 8:15). He also quoted from Psalm 112:9—“They have freely scattered their gifts to the poor; their righteousness endures forever” (2 Cor. 9:9, NIV).
Paul urged his readers to be intentional about giving, to put aside regularly a portion of their income so that it would be easy to give when he or Titus visited their church to collect their offerings and deliver them to the Christians in need in Jerusalem. He used the example of one church to encourage other churches to similar generosity. “Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves”, Paul wrote, “others will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ, and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else” (2 Cor. 9:13, NIV).
|How should we prioritize giving when we are unable to give to every cause or need presented to us?|