Vol. 8, No. 4
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These are the words of our late brother in Christ, Paul (Saul) of Tarsus. He went on to describe just what it was he would do very gladly as, "...spend and be spent for you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved" (2 Corinthians 12:15). Paul says he was ready to exhaust his personal resources for the church. In fact, one writer noted that this indicated "...all that I am. This is more than even natural parents do" (JFB). Paul was firmly content to be taken advantage of on occasion, given the circumstances furthered the Gospel of Christ (cf. Philippians 1:15-18; 2 Corinthians 11:23-28).
This lesson of Christian demeanor must be imbedded into our thinking if we are to "be...faithful unto death" (Revelation 2:10). Otherwise, I fear we'll be discouraged unto death. We have heard the notion of "being spent" for the cause of Christ put down by some brethren through the years. "I am not going to work with sister so-and-so; she did me wrong." Or, "Oh, brother such-and-such said something and won't take it back; I'll never help anything in which he's involved." During this time, we harden ourselves and "learn" not to put ourselves in a "vulnerable position" anymore. Yet, though Paul sometimes fell into "perils by [his] own country men... [and even] false brethren" (2 Corinthians 11:26), he still inwardly rejoiced, saying "I have learned in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content" (Philippians 4:14). We remain in danger of becoming calloused toward a productive spiritual life in God if we are too sensitive to accept with patience (1) persecution from without; and (2) the non-sinful weaknesses ("scruples," NKJV) of our brethren (Romans 14:17-19; 15:1-3).
We may have said these, or similar things, if we've ever cared about the church of Christ at all. We've put ourselves on the line, and been hurt. We've put our ideas forward and have been humiliated. We've tried to suggest, work toward and enable new programs and ideas to promote the strength of the church and the spread of the Gospel. Yet, Satan steps in and makes a fool out of us, to deter us from doing the work the Lord would have us do. And to add to the agitation, he often uses us against each other to create the hurt (Galatians 5:15).
However, the early church was still a growing, effective church. And it was not because they had much to "spend," but rather because they were readily willing to "be spent" for the cause of Christ (1 Corinthians 4:10; 9:22), and very gladly! The foundation of the church was laid first in the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28), but the walls were raised in the blood of Christian martyrs (Acts 7:59-60; Revelation 6:11), and very gladly! So, dear Christian brothers and sisters, what will we do for Christ and the church, very gladly?
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary (JFB). CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.