The word of God teaches us to always look around us, to think broadly, and to check if there is a brother or sister who is in any need. The need can be physical, mental, spiritual…
Paul gives us an example in that he humbles himself for the sake of other people, so that they may hear the word of hope in Messiah Yeahua. He subdues his personal desires and plans, for the sake of the gospel, in order to save people. “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Cor. 9:19-22).
Paul reminds the Corinthians (and us) of the special grace Yeshua has given us through the cross: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9). Yeshua became poor, to enrich us. Yeshua, as God, had and still has all the wealth in the world. As soon as He gave up His status and came down to us to Earth, He became poor: He was born in a miserable manger, during His life on Earth He had no place to lay His head and there were always those who took care of His needs. He teaches us that physical things do not bring real joy to people.
Being content with what we have is what brings us joy: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. For he who serves Christ in these things is acceptable to God and approved by men” (Rom. 14:17-18).
We must understand that all we have is the wealth He has provided us. (Homes to live in and their contents, vehicles to travel in, food to eat and clothing to wear, heating in winter, air conditioning in summer, running water, which many do not have in backward countries, and electricity available for our use and well-being and more). We all have these and this is basically the wealth that the Lord has provided us, to live a healthy and comfortable life. He also wants us to share with others what we have received from Him (from our surplus): “For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. For I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened; but by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack, that their abundance also may supply your lack—that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing left over, and he who gathered little had no lack” (2 Cor. 8:12-15). But most of all we must thank Him for the spiritual richness of knowing Him: “Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33), and more: “And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:19), and more: “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:7).
Paul encourages the brothers in Corinth (and us) to contribute to those in need, because this service will not only fill the shortage of the brothers, but will bring honor to God, for His great grace. “For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9:12-15). How wonderful to remember every day the grace we have received from the Lord, and of course not to forget to give grace to others. The will of God, that we may be pipes of His grace, from Him – to us and from us – to others….
The special character of Paul is very similar to that of Yeshua, and this is revealed to us in 2 Cor. 11:29: “Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to stumble, and I do not burn with indignation?”. Paul takes care of his brothers like a father who takes care of his sons and this is what he teaches us. He wants us to be spiritual fathers, to take care of the young people, to teach them to walk in the way of the Lord, to love them, even if they do not give love back to us. “…for I do not seek yours, but you. For the children ought not to lay up for the parents, but the parents for the children. And I will very gladly spend and be spent for your souls; though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved” (2 Cor. 12:14-15).
Paul encourages us to be faithful tools in the hands of the Lord: “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Tit. 3:8). He himself did everything for the brothers, just they will be edified. At the same time he warns them (and us) to stay away from the deeds of the flesh: “Again, do you think that we excuse ourselves to you? We speak before God in Christ. But we do all things, beloved, for your edification. For I fear lest, when I come, I shall not find you such as I wish, and that I shall be found by you such as you do not wish; lest there be contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, backbitings, whisperings, conceits, tumults; (2 Cor. 12:19-20). Paul here expresses his concern, lest he mourn for brothers who have not repented of these deeds, for he is the one who taught, guided and helped them grow in faith. This concern is also in the heart of those who see brothers who started in the spirit and finished in the flesh.
At the end of the second letter to the Corinthians, Paul begs the brothers, and this of course is also addressed to us today: “Finally, brethren, farewell. Become complete. Be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11). Amen!