Lord, open my eyes and help me to understand the blessings of doing ministry.
Read Romans 15:23–33
23 But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, 24 I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while. 25 Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. 26 For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. 27 They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. 28 So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. 29 I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ.
30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. 31 Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the Lord’s people there, 32 so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. 33 The God of peace be with you all. Amen.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor” (2 Cor. 8:9).
Paul’s immediate task is to leave Corinth (his place of writing) and go to
Jerusalem—where he would be arrested and eventually transported to Rome. One task in
particular awaits him: the delivery of a large collection from the new churches of Asia Minor to the original, but now impoverished, church in Jerusalem. This clearly means a great deal to Paul, precisely because it bridges the divide between Jews and Gentiles. As spiritual blessings had come from the Jews, so material blessings should be returned to them (27).
Some have alleged that the Jerusalem church became poor precisely because of the zealous but unsustainable way they had practiced the community of goods after Pentecost (Acts 2:44,45). Maybe, or maybe not. Another reason could be economic persecution at the hands of the Jewish establishment. However, the money Paul intends to deliver (no doubt with others for protection; 31) is a tangible, if different, sign of the sharing of possessions between believers. It also stands as the first international Christian relief fund of its kind. We should still take giving seriously (2 Cor. 8:13,14).
Given all of the challenges that Paul and the early church faced, we marvel over the depth of spiritual emotion that must have sustained them. In verse 13 Paul speaks of the blessings of hope, joy and peace. He now recalls the spiritual blessings that have come from the Jews (27). Finally, he articulates his longing to visit the Romans, coming to them with joy, by God’s will (32). Owing to this caliber of passion, embodied in the gift of Christ through the Spirit, this first generation of believers “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6, KJV).
Is it time to rekindle your passion? How might you begin?
Lord, I rejoice to be included as a co-laborer in a vineyard that involves people of all
beliefs. Use me mightily.