“…and this, not as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then by the will of God to us.” (2 Cor 8:5)
Again, perspective. This perspective is describing Vision. What is my Vision concerning the Kingdom of God?
I wonder what Paul was really expecting?
I think what I read is that he expected the Corinth church to respond—he just didn’t expect the breadth and depth of the response.
What were the differences between an “expected” response and an “unexpected but celebrated” response? The difference is found right here: “…but they gave themselves first to the Lord…”
I have found that “giving myself first to the Lord” isn’t a perspective I can call up on demand. Back in my youth there was a Saturday morning cartoon called “Super Friends” or something like that. On it was depicted a Brother/Sister twin act and when they wanted their super powers to manifest, they bumped fists and declared “Wonder Twin Powers, Activate.”
There have been times where I have assumed the same sort of mantle—I could shift into “BELIEVER-MAN” mode and do all sorts of things in Jesus’ Name.
It doesn’t work that way.
Being a Believer is cultivating the character of a disciple. That takes focus and work; it takes cultivating Vision; it takes intentional surrender every day. It takes giving myself first to the Lord every moment of the day.
Surprise! A one-time decision isn’t adequate. Why? Because when I want to do good, evil lies close at hand. (See Romans 6 and 7) While the penalty of sin has been answered by the Blood of Christ, sin in my members has to be fought (in cooperation and with the power of the Holy Spirit)—and especially the sin that lies in the thoughts of my noggin. Among other things, it is my Noggin that needs renewal. A renewed Noggin gets me what? A renewed Perspective and Vision of the Kingdom.
I don’t respond in every situation by giving myself first to the Lord. But, examining myself daily, the Holy Spirit is faithful to point out those flaws, those rust spots, those places where I make myself the Idol of the Day and allows me to confess my sin and repent.
Father: Bold words. Please make them active in my life, nudge me (kick me) more to do them and pay attention to Your whisper. I want to be found in You at the End of Days…AMEN.