Read - 2 Corinthians 8
Message - Scott Woodburn
Today is Saturday 7th November 2020. You've perhaps had a quiet morning in the conservatory and enjoyed/endured your other half's homemade pancakes and soon you'll close your eyes for a nap on this sleepy November morning. I'm writing this devotion days before and because I'm not a prophet I can no more predict how you will spend your morning than I can predict who will be the next American President. And yet...all things being equal...by the time this devotion is published...by the time you've had your breakfast...Trump will have won "four more years" or America will have turned to Biden as the next resident President of the White House.
My mother used to tell me that "you don't ask people who they vote for." but let me ask you...who would you have voted for in the election that took place at the beginning of the week? Don't text me, don't email, don't phone, I'll not be putting a spreadsheet together to collate your choices but let me simply say that most of us don't consider a candidate's policies but instead we choose based on whether we like the individual or not. Character often trumps all else.
Let me ask you another question...if your church had raised a substantial amount for a fellowship in Jerusalem and that money would be delivered on foot and in person...who would pick for the task? For Paul it would always be a question of character and so he sends Titus back to Corinth to collect the money raised for the suffering church in Judea. What can be said about Titus? He shared Paul's care for the Corinthians (v16) and he accepted the task before him willingly (v17).
Yet Titus won't travel alone, he is accompanied by someone who is actually quite famous (v18). Does Paul place a man's fame over and above a man's character? By no means. This nameless individual is famous in the eyes of the church because of his preaching of the Gospel. Indeed this preacher will make the journey with the full confidence of the church of Jesus Christ. He has been appointed by them to carry out this task for the glory of the Lord (v19).
Why go to such lengths? As this money is distributed to the poor there can be no room for accusation, no blame, no rumour or inneuendo. The character of these men is important and the integrity of their work should not be called into question. Everything carried out should be honourable in the sight of God and in the sight of the world (v20-21).
The two will become three as another nameless brother is sent on this mission (v22). His name is known now only to the Lord but we can still be sure that he was another individual of integrity and character. He had been tested by Paul himself and not found wanting and now, traveller number three, shares Paul's concern for Corinth. The two or three is a Biblical standard for truth (2 Corinthians 13v1) and now these men should be welcomed by the Corinthians and should have Corinthian confidence placed in them (v23). Indeed the Corinthians are to show these men why it is that Paul boasts about the Corinthian church (v24).
Regardless this week of Trump or Biden, let me remind you of the words of another American, Martin Luther King "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." It is character that remains vital in the Christian church. Just because a man has talent doesn't mean he should lead. Just because a woman is our friend doesn't mean she should be excused. Just because a man is famous doesn't mean his word should never be tested. May our dealings in the church and in the world always be honourable and always seek to bring further glory to the precious name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Q8 How doth God execute his decrees? God executeth his decrees in the works of creation and providence.