Here for the third time I am ready to come to you. And I will not be a burden, for I seek not what is yours but you. For children are not obligated to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls…
2 Corinthians 12: 14, 15 (ESV)
The Church, which Paul founded in Corinth on his first missionary journey, was having doubts about his authority as an Apostle of Jesus Christ and concerns about the purity of his motives in visiting them for the third time. Some in the Church were thinking that Paul was coming to depend on them for sustenance rather than providing the spiritual nourishment they so urgently needed. Fully realizing that the growing magnitude of this misconception could seriously jeopardize his mission, he assured them that he would not be a burden upon them.
Paul was somewhat troubled, however, by the lack of maturity and generosity in this established Church but as a mature believer, he humbled himself before their unreasonable suspicions. In doing so, he was being the responsible parent, minimizing his rightful position and going the extra mile to ensure that they understood the true purpose of his journey to Corinth. He desired their hearts and minds, not their material resources.
We too should thoughtfully take responsibility for the proper spiritual care and feeding of young and impressionable believers who are living within our sphere of influence. We should also be patient and understanding of any misconceived beliefs and forays into questionable doctrine, being careful and diligent to get them redirected onto the righteous path of Christ promoting and demonstrating Christ consciousness. Paul determined that he would nurture and encourage the Church instead of scolding them. We should do the same, expecting nothing in return, as Paul so humbly demonstrated. He would rather “spend and be spent for” their souls, a partnership of maturity and humility, which is the spirit of our walk with Christ.
Dear Lord, give us discernment and direction in order to become responsible mature believers to those young and growing Believers around us. Let us be problem solvers as well as peacemakers. Help us to take responsibility if a shortage or void in discipleship, fellowship, or leadership develops. Help each of us to operate at a high level in our God-given abilities, being wise and discerning of any challenging circumstances affecting the brothers with whom we fellowship. Amen.
A F Fischer