(2 Corinthians 8:1-12)
There are many people in the church today who suffer needlessly. They believe that they are sinners and could never be acceptable to God, and so they live lives of gulit and self-condemnation.
I am aware also of some churches that preach a similar dogma, stating that it is virtually impossible to be perfect. Some teach that the only people who will be saved will be the 144,000 mentioned in Revelation. Others claim that you cannot be baptised in water until you have cleansed all sin from your bodies, and are virtually perfect. As such only a few of their members are baptised.
Such teaching is wrong and such thinking is destructive. In Christ we were and are accepted for who we are and what we are. We do not have to be perfect to come to Him because the work of the New Covenant and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is what brings us to perfection. We come in weakness and are transformed into perfection as the Holy Spirit works in and with us as individuals.
We All Need A Saviour
When any person comes to Christ, they come in the knowledge that they ARE sinners and are in need of salvation. Yes, they are weak and in full recognition of the fact that they cannot “fix” themselves without the intervention of God’s grace.
But that’s where all self-condemnation and guilt must end, because God and Jesus Christ accept us as we are.
This scripture I am examining today speaks about the church sharing and giving to the members of the church so that no-one suffers lack. It is about the financing of the operations of the church the Christian way.
However, this section also contains a principle that is universal in the way God treats His people. Look closely at verses 10-12.
10 And in this matter I give my advice: it is best for you now to complete what a year ago you began not only to do but to desire, 11 so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not. (2 Corinthians 8:10-12)
Desiring the Truth of Christ
The first key in this section is to complete what you began when you “desired” to do it.
What is it that we as Christians desire most? We desire to be like Christ so that in due course we can and will live with Him in His eternal kingdom. This is our primary desire as Christians.
How shall we achieve this desire? We need to spend the time, effort and energy to seek the ways of God, to find the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to follow it and Him as we walk each day.
There are many teachings in the church today that are good, but there are also many that are not good. We are warned continually about false prophets, false teachers, lies, half-truths and wolves in the church disguised as sheep. The devil comes among us to destroy the work of Jesus Christ, and he does this by spreading confusion and lies in the church. And he has had two thousand years to infiltrate and soil the teachings of the church.
As such we cannot blindly accept anything from anyone, which is not to say everyone is teaching what is false. They are not. What I am saying is that we must take responsibility to seek out our own salvation and not rely on someone to spoon feed it to us.
Accepted For Who You Are
Fortunately we are accepted for what we are, and in verse 12 of the above section we see this principle described. Paul writes that, “…if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a man has, not according to what he has not.”
We are accepted based on what we have, not what we do not have. We are not held accountable for the things we don’t know, but only for the things we DO know.
This is important, because with all the many variations, denominations and sects of the Christian church, and not all of them can be right, the people will be accepted for what they have and know, not what they don’t know or have.
God is compassionate, forgiving and full of mercy and love. This is the essence of His grace. So it stands to reason that He will not reject anyone because they DON’T know something. The one exception is that those who choose to reject Jesus Christ will likewise be rejected. Every person will be judged on this earth on Judgement Day, but they will be judged on what they know, not what they do not know, and on what they do with what they know.
So the fact that you may not know everything pertaining to righteousness and the workings of the New Covenant will not disqualify you from God’s grace. Otherwise, how would it be possible for Christ to say to the criminal who was put to death with Him, that he would be with Christ in Paradise. What did that man have? All He had was a grain of faith and the recognition that Jesus was the Son of God, and he acted on that faith saying what he did. It was clearly enough in the criminal’s case.
For us though, we cannot simply stop and rest on our laurels thinking we don’t need to learn any more or do any more. Instead we need to be more diligent to seek out the truth. As Jesus said,
Walk while you have the light, lest the darkness overtake you; he who walks in the darkness does not know where he goes. (John 12:35)
We must continue to walk and grow and learn and mature in Jesus Christ. Yes, we are accepted for who and what we are by the grace of God, but we are also called to learn so we can be like Jesus.
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