Tuesday, July 3Scripture Reading—II Corinthians 9:1-5
I have to admit, as much as I admire Paul, there are times he says and does things that make me uncomfortable. In this passage, he’s putting everything on the line in his attempt to raise funds for the Christians in Jerusalem. He’s moved beyond encouragement to generosity and instructions about collecting the offering to a no-holds-barred attempt at persuasion. We sometimes forget that Paul, and Jesus’ for that matter, lived in a culture where people did all they could to gain honor and avoid shame. Paul knows that, so he plays that card. He tells the Corinthians he’s been bragging on them and holding them up as a model throughout Macedonia. He doesn’t want them to be embarrassed by not being ready with their offering when Titus and others come to collect their gift. He even tells them he wants their gift to be voluntary and not as an “extortion,” implying that if it came down to it, Paul might resort to that! I’m more comfortable with Paul in the latter part of this chapter when he makes the best argument for giving when he says we give out of gratitude for all that God has done for us in Christ. But maybe he has a point worth considering in his appeal to the Corinthians to uphold the reputation he’s given them throughout that region. Sometimes we need to be reminded that our behavior, for good or ill, has an impact on other people. And in the end, maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be given a good reputation to try to live up to!
Thought for the day: Being claimed by God and given the name Christian already gives us a reputation to try to live up to!
Prayer: O God, I know how far short I can fall in trying to be a faithful disciple. But help me to know that by the power of your spirit at work in me, I can one day faithfully reflect your love and grace to others, living up to the hopes and dreams you have had for my life, even before it began. Amen.