Text: 2 Corinthians 9:12-15; Romans 15:26-27

When there is sincere giving, not only is the giver blessed but the recipient as well. In the case of the Jerusalem saints, they were very much cheered when they received the contributions from the Macedonian and Corinthian churches. They were greatly relieved from their poverty by the funds that were given in love by the saints. “For it hath pleased them of Macedonia and Achaia to make a certain contribution for the poor saints which are at Jerusalem. It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.” (Rom. 15:26-27)

However, Paul looked beyond the physical relief to that which is spiritual. When the Jerusalem saints received the generous help, it led them to praise God for how the Lord had used the Gentile churches as instruments to bless others in love. This was only possible because of the Gospel of Christ, which transforms men from selfish creatures to selfless saints. The cheerful giving of the Gentile churches led to effusive worship and the praise of God. All glory be unto His matchless name!

Paul then gave thanks to God for the “unspeakable gift”. What is this gift that so wonderful that words cannot express? Some believe this gift to be the generous relief received by the Jerusalem saints. Others, however, take this gift to be the exceeding grace in Christ Jesus (v.14). The fact that the “gospel of Christ” is mentioned in verse 13, makes the latter to be more likely. “Inasmuch as Paul called this gift ‘indescribable’, any lesser identification than the one given above seems out of place.” (Kent)

We thank God that the Corinthian Christians heeded the exhortations of Paul and gave liberally to the Jerusalem saints as seen in Romans 15:26-27. Let us learn from the Macedonian and Corinthian Christians and be a blessing to others by our giving.

THOUGHT: Do something good for Jesus everyday. (Timothy Tow)
PRAYER: Make me a channel of blessing, O Lord.

Text: 2 Corinthians 10:1-2; 2 Timothy 2:24-26

While many in the Corinthian church received Paul’s severe letter favourably, there was a hardened and rebellious faction that continued to malign Paul’s character. They accused Paul of being only meek and gentle when he was in the presence of the Corinthian Christians. However, when he was away, he showed himself to be firm and austere, hiding behind his letters. According to the accusers, Paul was both a coward and a hypocrite.

Such defamatory statements hold no water at all, when one considers the example of Christ. While Christ was ministering upon the earth, He taught the people with much meekness and gentleness (c.f. Matt 11:29; 21:5). It is with this in mind that Paul exhorts pastors in 2 Timothy 2:24-26, “And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” Paul was just following the example of his Saviour Christ Jesus.

On the other hand, Paul did write letters with sharp words to rebuke the Corinthian Christians, but these were all done in love and concern, with the intention of leading them back to Christ and His Word. He also hoped that these letters may be well received, so that he need not use those sharp words in future encounters with the Corinthians. Thus, the letters were not written in cowardice nor hypocrisy. When Paul learnt of the godly sorrow and repentance of the Corinthian saints, he was full of joy and cheer. He was more than happy to receive them back unto himself. What a wonderful example of firmness, meekness and gentleness!

Ironically, it was the adversaries of Paul who were operating contrary to the pattern of Christ. By attacking the Apostle Paul with such libellous remarks, they revealed their hearts to be full of malice and malevolence. There is no meekness and gentleness at all in their speech and actions.

In fact, those who were treated firmly and austerely by Jesus were the religious teachers of the day who ought to have known the Scriptures better. However, they did not teach men to follow God’s Word but to transgress the commandment of God by their tradition (Matt. 15:3). This was done with the intention that they will look good and pious in the eyes of others. Everything is for self-gain. Thus, Jesus pronounced woe upon the scribes and Pharisees seven times from Matthew 23:13-29. Nevertheless, for those who humbly seek Christ like Nicode-mus, they were patiently led by Him to the truth.

Do meekness and gentleness equate with inaction? Not so! Sin must never be swept under the carpet. Paul is ever ready to deal with those who persist in their rebellious and slanderous ways. Such men must be reproved firmly. Thus, in Ti-tus 1:13, Paul asked Titus to “rebuke sharply” those who persevere in subverting whole houses with false teaching, lies and worldly practices (see Tit. 1:1-12). This was done with the intention that the Cretian church may learn to be “sound in the faith”.

How do you minister to others? Are you like Paul or his opponents?

THOUGHT: Humility is an essential ingredient in serving the Lord. What then is biblical humility?
PRAYER: Lord, make me meek like my Saviour Jesus Christ.