Tuesday Re-mix -
And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 2 Cor. 8:5
I think we, as church leaders, are guilty of making excuses for our people and their occasional luke-warm commitment to kingdom activity.
I did a radio interview last year about Trusting God’s People…Again, the book I co-authored with Debbie Williams. The interview request kind of caught me by surprise, since it had been a few years since we launched that book. I was grateful for the opportunity to do it, because that is still very much a topic about which I am passionate (people wounded by the church). Thanks, Shane Finch, for that fun opportunity!
It was one of the more interesting radio interviews I’ve done. Shane asked me a few questions I was not at all ready for (I’m hoping he had the mercy not to run my answer to, “What song do you wish you had written?”–wow, how embarrassing was THAT answer!). But one question really brought me under conviction: “What do you see the Lord doing through you in the year 2020?” I knew what my answer SHOULD be. It should be, “Whatever He wants to be doing through me.” That should be how all of us answer that question, because, as Christ-followers, we should all be do totally given to Him that He is doing absolutely everything and anything He desires to do through us.
That, I believe, is what Paul meant in his letter to the Corinthians about the Macedonian believers who had given so very much out of their poverty and persecution. They gave themselves first of all to the Lord… I think I have a pretty fair understanding of what it means to be busily invested in church. But I am not altogether certain I have a grasp of what it feels like to give myself to the Lord…not completely. I know I should want that…but I’m not sure I’m there yet.
But shouldn’t that be my goal? In fact, shouldn’t that be every Christ-follower’s goal? If I give myself fully to the Lord, then every waking hour is devoted to being used by Him…at work, at school, at home and at church. In short, I should have an expectation of being used in every circumstance and in every setting.
That was Paul’s expectation of the Corinthian church. “I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others.” In other words, the Macedonians have given themselves, now you guys do the same! I love Paul’s exhortation that these dear church members step up and deliver. He wasn’t shy. He didn’t make excuses for them. You would never have heard Paul saying, “We really shouldn’t expect quite so much from our laymen in the church…after all, they have full time jobs all week long and families, etc.”
There is joy and fulfillment and satisfaction in giving ourselves to the Lord. As church leaders, why wouldn’t we want every layman to feel that sense of fulfillment? It is time, I believe, for us to stop making excuses for one another and to start pressing one another toward giving ourselves first of all to the Lord. I want that for me, and I want it for you too. And I want it for every member of my church. Will you make this pledge with me? No more excuses!