For a while now I've been reading through Paul's epistles with a fresh outlook. It seems like every time I read, the heart of the letter makes me think "yes, I can identify with that" or "this isn't something strange that only we feel." That in itself is an encouragement but it's also making the scriptures feel more real every day.
Yesterday I shared with you from the book of Romans and Paul's motivations for not going to Rome. Today I was reading through 2 Corinthians and Paul's theology of giving. Ever since we started to process what following God's leading to Ecuador might mean, one thing that God continues to emphasize to us is this: It really, really, really, isn't about us but about Christ, His church, His Glory, and helping others know Him.
On the surface you might think that giving to a missionary might mainly be a one-to-one relationship. You're helping a friend reach a goal or some personal calling. Sure, that might be a part of it but it's really something much bigger. Look what Paul says here about giving:
2 Corinthians 9:10-15 Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!
What's the progression?
1. God provides for the Corinthians.
2. Through their giving Paul gives thanksgiving to God.
3. Not only does it help other's needs but
4. Makes many others give thanksgiving to God.
5. They glorify God because of the Corinthian's obedience.
6. They pray for the Corinthians and feel a connection with them.
This is something we've been able to see and experience as God has led others to embrace the vision of making disciples in southern Ecuador by praying, giving, and sending us there.
When our monthly support increases what happens?
1. We glorify God and thank Him. We're the first one to see this so immediately we are encouraged, feel God's leading confirmed, and see him provide for our needs. We do thank God and glorify Him for your partnership.
2. Others who are part of our prayer and support team thank and glorify God. As we share with all of you the progress, doesn't it make a thanksgiving and praise rise to God? I know as we've supported and followed missionaries in the past, we've been able to do it with great joy.
3. The missionary team in Ecuador thanks and glorifies God. We've been able to keep in contact with several from the team and they do pray and wait for us to be there. When they see us get closer to joining them, they are encouraged.
4. Local believers thank and glorify God. There are believers we were able to meet there in Ecuador who are waiting and praying for our arrival. They know first hand that the laborers are few and that, by God's grace, we desire to help them do the work God is birthing in them.
Sometimes we hear people say, "well, I can't give much but.." The reality is that when someone joins our monthly financial support team it sets off a wave of thanksgiving, starting with us and extending to southern Ecuador.
It really isn't merely about giving and receiving. But it's about seeing God glorified throughout the world and throughout all his people. May God make that truth ever more real to us.