Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Sep 12 2013 - 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 – Wanting you, not yours

One of the oddest accusations against Paul was that, unlike the false teachers, he had not sought financial support from them in return for his ministry. This was no oversight on Paul’s part; he had sought to proclaim the gospel to them without charge to underline the message that God’s gifts are given freely. Paul now plans to visit Corinth for a third time, and again he will seek no support from the Corinthians; “What I want is not your possessions but you” he says (2 Corinthians 12:14).

One of the illustrations Paul uses is that of the relationship between parent and child: “After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well” (12:14-15). My daughter once told me that the cost of bringing up a child is equivalent to the price of a Ferrari. I don’t know who put together this calculation or how it was estimated, but certainly the rearing of children is costly. But it is a cost we gladly bear for the love we have for our children. Indeed we do not count the cost nor present them with the bill when they leave home as if they were departing from a hotel. We are glad to have cared for them, provided for them and shaped their lives just as our parents did for us and, we trust, they in turn will do for the next generation.

And the same should be true in the life of the church. We are to gladly spend ourselves in the nurture and care of those who are young in the faith. It will cost us time, energy and the spending of our resources. It will also cost us heartache. But we do it for love of those who are loved of the Lord. We do it willingly and without counting the cost, even as we pray that they in turn may be used to nurture and care for generations to come. We are glad to forego the Ferrari!

It was John Kennedy who said, “Do not ask what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country.” Christian thinking should follow the model set by the apostle Paul; we should not firstly be thinking of how others might be a blessing to us but how we might be a blessing to them. Our concern should not be to get our hands on the possessions of others but to love our brothers and sisters in Christ and to be united to them in heart and soul. This is no romantic vision; it is a costly calling, for it demands the continual and glad spending of ourselves upon others. This is what it means to follow Christ.

From heaven you came helpless babe
Entered our world, your glory veiled
Not to be served but to serve
And give Your life that we might live

This is our God, The Servant King
He calls us now to follow Him
To bring our lives as a daily offering
Of worship to The Servant King

So let us learn how to serve
And in our lives enthrone Him
Each other's needs to prefer
For it is Christ we're serving
   (Graham Kendrick, 1983)

Lord Jesus, teach me how to follow you in a life of service – to walk in the same footsteps by the same Spirit. May I, like Paul, gladly spend myself in the nurture and encouragement of others that generations to come may stand strong in you and bear witness to your abundant goodness.

Peter Misselbrook