Sunday, October 25, 2020
It's Time to Send More Workers
2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5
2 Corinthians 8:16-9:5 (CSB)Thanks be to God, who put the same concern for you into the heart of Titus. 17 For he welcomed our appeal and, being very diligent, went out to you by his own choice. 18 We have sent with him the brother who is praised among all the churches for his gospel ministry. 19 And not only that, but he was also appointed by the churches to accompany us with this gracious gift that we are administering for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our eagerness to help. 20 We are taking this precaution so that no one will criticize us about this large sum that we are administering. 21 Indeed, we are giving careful thought to do what is right, not only before the Lord but also before people. 22 We have also sent with them our brother. We have often tested him in many circumstances and found him to be diligent — and now even more diligent because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and coworker for you; as for our brothers, they are the messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 Therefore, show them proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you. 9:1 Now concerning the ministry to the saints, it is unnecessary for me to write to you. 2 For I know your eagerness, and I boast about you to the Macedonians, “Achaia has been ready since last year,” and your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you in this matter would not prove empty, and so that you would be ready just as I said. 4 Otherwise, if any Macedonians come with me and find you unprepared, we, not to mention you, would be put to shame in that situation. 5 Therefore I considered it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you and arrange in advance the generous gift you promised, so that it will be ready as a gift and not as an extortion.
When we love something enough to pour our time, our energy, and our money into it, it’s natural for us to want to see it and experience it ourselves. So when churches are serious about sending the gospel around the world, serious enough to give time, energy, and money, then it’s natural to send gospel workers to go in person. Generosity fueled by the gospel naturally overflows in sending gospel workers. Once we start sending our money, it only makes sense to send people as well.
Step #1: God stirs a heart to go.
God was the one who placed the burden to go in Titus’ heart. The concern Paul wanted the Corinthian church to show for other Christians is the concern Titus had for them. He was willing to leave his home and travel a great distance in order to help them. He was willing to give his time, his comfort, his safety, his energy, his own life in order to serve them. It took a work of God in his heart to motivate this deep level of love.
Step #2: The church sends them out.
Though we’re not told the particulars, it’s clear that these men were vetted and approved by the churches. The churches had some way of testing them to make sure they were equipped to tackle the ministry. The job of evaluating and training leaders is not given to a seminary or a denomination, but to local churches. And what churches should be looking for is not charisma or even a special set of gifts, but faithfulness and fruitfulness in gospel service.
Step #3: The church supports their work.
We need good structure, good policies, and good support when it comes to finances. We need to be wise stewards of the resources God entrusts to our care. But we need to be well-ordered so the gospel can move forward. Good structure should always support gospel advancement. But sometimes as churches grow older, the structures start to impede gospel ministry. The decision to move forward is delayed by a procedure or bogged down by a committee. Structures should be runways, not roadblocks.
Step #4: The church sets an example.
Paul so desperately wants churches to demonstrate the fundamental ethic of Christianity—that of radical, self-giving love. When they do that, they provide a much-needed example to other churches. Now it’s easy to talk big, but give little. That’s what the Corinthians were tempted to do (v.4). But Paul urges them to give the generous gift they had promised in order to be a blessing to others.
Giving and sending are not optional for churches. They are indispensable because Christianity is built on giving and sending. The gospel is the story of God giving His Son by sending Him to earth, by sending Him to us, by sending Him to the cross. Giving and sending summarize the gospel message. God’s own Son, our Savior Jesus Christ, was the very first missionary sent to give life and hope to those lost and dying.
A church that no longer gives and sends is a church with a severe identity crisis. Frankly, it’s a church that has forgotten why they exist. We must never neglect our responsibility to give and send. We must constantly grow in giving and sending. May God, in His grace, stir many hearts here to go, and those of us who don’t go, may we give generously to send them.