22 Jun 2001

The Grace Exchange

Submitted by theshovel
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Make no mistake about it, Paul pushed the issue of giving with the Corinthians. But why? What did he want from these Corinthian believers? Their money? Not a chance. If you read through the two letters he wrote you would realize that he made a big point about distancing himself from any of their physical goods - he wasn't even going to touch the stuff when it traded hands.

If we sowed spiritual things in you, is it too much if we reap material things from you? If others share the right over you, do we not more? Nevertheless, we did not use this right, but we endure all things so that we will cause no hindrance to the gospel of Christ ... I am not writing these things so that it will be done so in my case; for it would be better for me to die than have any man make my boast an empty one ... when I preach the gospel, I may offer the gospel without charge, so as not to make full use of my right in the gospel. --Selected statements from 1 Corinthians 9:11-18

Realize that Paul did receive gifts from some, as the Philippians, to whom he wrote,

you have done well to share with me in my affliction Philippians 4:14

But it was under different circumstances that did not interfere with their understanding of the free gift of God. He would rather die than to take anything from the Corinthians because they were so caught up with the infrastructure of a leadership that compared and competed with itself causing those under it to judge all things by fleshly wisdom. By the way, since these others who were "sharing the right" over the Corinthians were not preaching Christ but preaching themselves, Paul's mention of it probably stuck out like a sore thumb.

So, why did he press upon them to complete their financial pledge? Notice, he didn't beg and plead with them based on how badly the money was needed, but instead he referred to a MUTUAL need. Mutual need?:

...your abundance being a supply for THEIR need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for YOUR need". 2 Corinthians 8:2

Now, it's obvious why the believers in Jerusalem needed the physical support, and it's obvious why Paul didn't want to take everything the Macedonians were willing to give to provide that need, but what did the Corinthians NEED from both those in Jerusalem as well as those in Macedonia? "... their abundance of joy and their deep poverty overflowed in the wealth of their liberality ..."

Liberality = giving freely.

All things considered, one might come to the conclusion that the poor saints in Jerusalem were not the neediest part of the body, but instead it was those believers in Corinth who were so full of themselves they had forgotten what the true riches were. You see, the freedom of Christ is not an idea, it is LIFE. The Corinthians didn't make a pledge to give because they were responding to an outward compelling, they pledged to give because they were truly FREE on the inside. Paul called their attention to this former pledge because it forced them to reconsider the miraculous freedom they had experienced.

Consider, if the Corinthians had made their pledge of financial support based on an obligation to perform, do you think Paul would have suggested they follow it through? Gimme a break! If that had been the case, I think his letters to them may have sounded a little more like the letter to the Galatians where he concluded that going through with a ritual requirement of the law would only obligate them to perform the whole law. The whole point of the giving issue with the Corinthians had nothing to do with binding them to a duty or to a requirement, but in causing them to remember the freedom by which they had been delivered from the bondage of law!!

Secondly, consider the possibility that since the Corinthians BEGAN this work the previous year they most likely began collecting some funds that never made it to Jerusalem. Split between the wolves perhaps? Or taken by the most fleshly-minded? My point: If the fleshly dealings in the matter had been exposed, they would have seen how their supposed leaders had stifled the work of the Spirit in them and they would not be so quick to listen to them anymore.

When the body isn't afflicted with insanity it automatically senses the needs within it and it attends to those needs. The Corinthians had gone insane. The life that flowed through them as they were responding in love to take up a collection for those in need got put on hold. To withhold freedom is to become constipated. Understand that TO THEM the holding back of their liberality (giving freely) was so interconnected with their sanity of freedom in Christ that in completing the gift they would be released from the straight-jacket that bound them.

My friends, freedom is truly a dangerous thing to the religious mind because it cannot be controlled. But know this, that the Spirit of Christ calls you to live freely. For in living freely you are living as one truly alive!!

Next time: Sowing and Reaping

I am not speaking this as a command, but as proving through the earnestness of others the sincerity of your love also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. I give my opinion in this matter, for this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also, so that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability. For if the readiness is present, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. For this is not for the ease of others and for your affliction, but by way of equality at this present time your abundance being a supply for their need, so that their abundance also may become a supply for your need, that there may be equality; as it is written, 'he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little had no lack.' 2 Corinthians 8:8-15

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Comments

Dude I absolutely LOVE this! Hurray! Yeepee! Adam
theshovel's picture

Adam, thanks for your vote of confidence. :) This series meant a lot to me to write it.

Jim

well not only did God speak to me but, my head is spinning all over the place lately.[in a good way] Love, Adam
theshovel's picture

These comments were all transferred over from the original website


Posted: June 23,2001 by Peter

Howdy Brother Jim:

I had a tough week - I had a lot of struggling with thoughts of condemnation. I had a few people oppose me over my latest newsletter and as a result, I struggled with my old mentality. I wrestled with that desire for pats on my back. I wrestled with some fear of religious men, and I wrestled with the thought that I am not adequate and that I am not rightly equipped - I am not holy, I am a sinner, (old way of thinking) etc., etc., etc. I wrestled with a lack of adequate sleep and I wrestled with my many differing rules and obligations that were the result of my many years steeped in religion and legalism - that reared their ugly head. Including my wrong perceptions about my need to be giving more - which I found that these current thoughts were "BOGUS" and they were entirely based on my desire to be seen by religious men (who judge a man according to his works) as being something! Ultimately I struggled much concerning my fear of men whom I was trained in my past religious days to believe were something - but now I see them as they truly are - nothing - just men who communicate a false message! Many of my wrong mentalities and wrong perceptions reared their ugly head this week - and I waged war against these thoughts - which wiped me out! When will I learn that it is not necessary for me to wage war against these things - I had forgotten the truth, which is that Jesus is in me and He is more than willing to do all of this battling for me.

But then, I recieve a newsletter like yours - and all the wrong perceptions and scales that covered my eyes from seeing my true identity in Christ just fall to the wayside. All of this garbage that has been accumulated in my thoughts and perceptions over the many years that has been a continual obstacle to just having a wonderful relationship with Jesus and seeing all of His wonderful blessings and His abounding grace just seem to go away and I can hear Jesus saying in that still small voice, "Everything is alright - I am in control - not you - just rest in me and experience my grace and love!" I can hear Him say, "I will take care of everything - don't you worry about nothing - I am in you - and you are mine - and you are in Me - just relax and experience how much I love you and will love others through you - Just rest and watch Me work!" And a smile comes over my entire countenance as I remember that Jesus' love for me is greater than the love expressed in the Song of Solomon! And I rest. My friend, it is then, that I truly rest in Him! It is so liberating! It is so wonderful! It is so Awesome! Tonight I will bask in His wonderful love and grace - it is time to be renewed in my thinking...

Thanking Him once again for speaking through you. Thank you Jim. I love ya. Have a great weekend. (Big Smile)...

May our Wonderful Jesus of all grace continue to richly bless you. And He has and He will and He will continue to forever!


Posted: June 23,2001 by Sherri

« ... the Corinthians ... were so caught up with the infrastructure of a leadership that compared and competed with itself causing those under it to judge all things by fleshly wisdom. »

I love how you put this! And I love the word infrastructure!! Sooo descript again! : )

« why did he press upon them to complete their financial pledge? »

I find it interesting that only a year previously the Corinthians not only began their offering, but did so from an inward desire to do so. What happened in so short a time from one year to the next to change that?

ENTER ... the deceitful messages of the 'word-merchants', and the group-acceptance within the Body by adopting the 'merchants' words of manipulation and deception.

I love how Paul reminded and encouraged them to complete their previous readiness of desire toward their offering according to their ability. He did not encourage them to make themselves 'poor' or 'lacking' while making those in need 'richer' (so-to-speak) than themselves. It was a matter of the heart and a very practical giving ... not an abusive robbing of themselves and/or each other for the selfish, greedy desires of another, but a genuine need of one group and a genuine desire of another group to meet it. : ) II Cor. 8:8 -15

Within a short year's time, 'word-merchants' stupified them into thinking differently and into viewing things according to their (the merchants) personal greed and abusiveness. Sad, but typical, yes?

I love how you point out that the word-merchants were not preaching CHRIST!, and that members of the Body amongst and under them, were judging all things with the fleshly wisdom of these merchants and the world. These are such urgently important distinctions to see, and to make, and to understand when reading this stuff!! : )

Shovels of love back to you, Shovelbabe! : )

P.S. How do you like that word 'stupify'!? Good, huh?! : ) I 'stole it' from Captain Hook (Dustin Hoffman) on the movie HOOK. : ) I am sure that if the apostle Paul were here today he would have used that word in GALATIONS! : ) He would have asked the Galations, "Tell me now! I want to know! Who is it that has stupified you!?" : )
Sherri


Posted: June 23,2001 by Richard

Hi Sherri

I am sure that if the apostle Paul were here today he would have used that word in GALATIANS! : ) He would have asked the Galations, "Tell me now! I want to know! Who is it that has stupified you!?" : )

Or, please don't be stupid,don't let anyone stuipify you!!
Totally gnarly dudette,ay?


Posted: May-12-08 by guest

Dear Shovel

From Piet

I love what you wrote

"My friends, freedom is truly a "dangerous" thing to the religious mind because it cannot be controlled. But know this, that the Spirit of Christ calls you to live freely. For in living freely you are living as one truly alive!!"

The life in the Spirit is totally against the flesh but the flesh loves the law and to boast in it .

What a great privilege to receive Jesus by grace and then to walk in Him as we received Him . Col 2v6 When we came to Him we had nothing to boast about . Now that we know Him we still have nothing to boast about . Only Jesus and Him crucified

Go for Jesus


Indeed, my friend Piet, Christ, and his righteousness, is our only boast! :)

Jim

‘The Corinthians didn’t make a pledge to give because they were responding to an outward compelling, they pledged to give because they were truly FREE on the inside. Paul called their attention to this former pledge because it forced them to reconsider the miraculous freedom they had experienced.’-Jim This is so wonderful because it describes the abiding in Christ and the true life of the Son flowing out of them through faith. Any other life is not only unfullfilling, it’s just dead.

Split between the wolves perhaps? Or taken by the most fleshly-minded?-Jim I can remember interacting with those in the IC many years ago. One thing I noticed not only in myself but, in them was the propensity to believe that it was beneficial to hang onto the fleshly mind as long as possible.[so as to not miss out on anything] As if it were a way to ‘get ahead’. Yeah, who wanted that ‘spiritual’ stuff anyway right? All that suffering, and doing stuff from sincerity. We wanted to ‘play’ and forget about that stuff until we got older. But, do we realize that we are actually not getting ‘ahead’ at all?[but rather falling behind] That.. what we are missing is immeasurable blessing? Stuff we have longed for from before our birth? We are not ‘gaining’ anything by being fleshly. It just appears that way. Same with your neighbor, he/she is not further ahead at all…it just seems that way. Jealousy reveals itself to be empty. We may look over our shoulder and think THEY have it made…they have this, or that, or the next thing. But, the truth is those things are not true substance..they only have an appearance of it. It leaves us behind not ahead in this life.

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