Giving Back

Today’s Passages – Romans 14 – 16;

(Second Milers also read –Psalms 141 – 145; Proverbs 29)

“But now I go unto Jerusalem to minister unto 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. When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain.” – (Romans 15:25-28)

Here in the concluding chapters of the Paul’s Letter to the Romans, Paul mentions having a desire to eventually travel to Rome on his way to Spain. Interestingly, Paul never gets to Spain, but he will spend some time in a Roman jail because of a series of events that take place in Jerusalem. Anyway, Paul is intent on travelling back to Jerusalem first for a number of reasons mentioned elsewhere in Scripture, but the reason mentioned here was because he was carrying relief money for the poor saints in Jerusalem that was collected from the Gentile churches in Macedonia and Achaia.

The thing that caught my attention this morning was that Paul mentions here that these saints in Greece owed a debt to the saints at Jerusalem. Why was that? Because the gospel mesage that brought salvation to the Grecian peninsula originated in Jerusalem. The saints at Jerusalem invested a great price in order to get the gospel to the rest the world. Notice that it says that these Gentile churches were giving to meet the carnal needs of the people of Jerusalem, because they were suffering financially. They needed food, clothing, and shelter, because they had lost these things because of their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Scripture uses this same illustration regarding how God’s people should meet the needs of those that minister to them spiritually:

“If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things? … Do ye not know that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar? Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live of the gospel.” – (1 Corinthians 9:11, 13-14)

People who are in the ministry do not (or should not) do what they do for any financial benefit, but they should not have to worry about their carnal needs while they minister. A preacher who has to spend a great deal of his time trying to earn income will not have the time or energy he needs to effectively minister to the people of God.

As Christians, we must recognize that we all owe a debt, ultimately to the Lord; but also to the people that have given to us the spiritual blessings that we enjoy. There are many people who have paid a dear price to get me to where I am today spiritually. I owe them. I may not be able to repay all of them in some tangible way, but I can pay the debt by making sure that I am doing what I can do to reinvest what has been given to me back into the work of the Lord. I can give to somebody else, what has been freely given to me.

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