Christopher B. Harbin
2 Corinthians 8:10-21
We have issues with expectations. We expect more out of others, perhaps more out of ourselves, yet recognize that our expectations often go much further than reality. We excuse ourselves for not being able to accomplish all we would like, even while we demean others for not doing all we would like them to accomplish. When it come to God, we have a long list of things we would like to happen, placing the bulk of the responsibility in God's hands while ignoring our own responsibilities. Somewhere along the line, we need to figure out what is within the scope of reason and what part of our expectations are simply untenable. How do we determine what is possible and where our expectations are simply beyond reason?
Paul had several reasons to be involved in raising money for the believers back in Jerusalem. He wanted the Jewish church to understand that the Gentile believers cared for them and were concerned for the welfare of those suffering from the famine. In that way, he wanted to build a measure of understanding between the Jewish and Gentile segments of the growing church. He was building bridges through compassion and expressions of love that could be measurably recognized among the Jewish church. Secondarily, he hoped to some extent to reduce the animosity that some felt toward these Gentile believers who were entering the gospel without becoming Jews. He wanted to disarm those critics, thereby decreasing the issues he continually faced from Judaizers in the Gentile churches. On the other hand, he also wanted the Gentile church to recognize their spiritual kinship with Jewish believers. He wanted them to think of themselves as part of something much larger than themselves.
Paul was building bridges, as well as meeting needs. He was defusing opposition to the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles without the impediments of Jewish traditions and restrictions that went beyond the grace evidenced in ...
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