I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. 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. 2 Corinthians 8:8-9
Generally, I have never liked comparing churches…for lots of reasons. It is a thing wrought with pitfalls and other dangers. I think comparing churches just fosters the already-prevalent attitude that churches are somehow in competition with each other for all the best people. We all know better intellectually, but our actions and attitudes say otherwise. I also do not like comparing churches because each local body of believers is dealing with its own special calling to a community or a certain people group or some other such “calling”, and the processes and programs should be specific to that calling, which makes comparing your church’s programs to my church’s programs an apples and oranges kind of thing.
But as with almost any other rule, there are exceptions to my rule against comparing churches. I mean, seriously, if a particular comparison was OK with Paul, then who am I to question it? Paul did not seem to hesitate in his second letter to the Corinthian church, comparing the generosity (in giving) of that church to that of the poorer Macedonian churches.
You see, there is something about “living generously” that transcends cultural differences or even differences of church size or Christian “flavor”. It is the very heart of a church, and it has a way of leveling the playing field in any comparison. The church who focuses on pouring itself into the lives of others, who focuses on being generous in giving …
And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us. 2 Cor. 8:5
I think we, as church leaders, are guilty of making excuses for our people and their occasional luke-warm commitment to kingdom activity.
I did a radio interview last year about Trusting God’s People…Again, the book I co-authored with Debbie Williams. The interview request kind of caught me by surprise, since it had been a few years since we launched that book. I was grateful for the opportunity to do it, because that is still very much a topic about which I am passionate (people wounded by the church). Thanks, Shane Finch, for that fun opportunity!
It was one of the more interesting radio interviews I’ve done. Shane asked me a few questions I was not at all ready for (I’m hoping he had the mercy not to run my answer to, “What song do you wish you had written?”–wow, how embarrassing was THAT answer!). But one question really brought me under conviction: “What do you see the Lord doing through you in the year 2020?” I knew what my answer SHOULD be. It should be, “Whatever He wants to be doing through me.” That should be how all of us answer that question, because, as Christ-followers, we should all be do totally given to Him that He is doing absolutely everything and anything He desires to do through us.
That, I believe, is what Paul meant in his letter to the Corinthians about the Macedonian believers who had given so very much out of their poverty and persecution. They gave themselves first of all to the Lord… I think I have a pretty fair understanding of what …