I have a friend who recently needed to talk to a person in charge of a particular organization. What he related about his conversation was interesting. He had the sense that she couldn’t be bothered in dealing with him. She was of the impression that she was someone of great importance who really shouldn’t have to deal with a peon of his sort. She had an assistant for that.
We fall into thinking that we are something or someone special for a number of different reasons, but often it happens because we imagine that our accomplishments are our own. However, as A.W. Tozer once said, “God is always previous.” Tozer is saying a lot here, but one thing he is saying is that we have what we have because God put it there. I saw this in reading the 8th chapter of 2 Corinthians. Consider what Paul said about his assistant Titus…
But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 2 Corinthians 8:16 (ESV)
We don’t have evidence that Titus was a prideful person, but suppose that after acting in a caring manner toward the Corinthians, he thought to himself, “My, what a caring and compassionate man I am!” And come to think of it, don’t we all have thoughts like that from time to time…about whatever we’re doing well? (Don’t leave me out here all alone, please.)
And yet, here is Paul saying that God put the “care” into his heart. God did it. Not Titus.
The Apostle actually says the same thing in a different way at the beginning of the chapter when he talks of the grace of God given among the churches in Macedonia. And here he means that their generosity actually came from God. It was His doing.
We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 2 Corinthians 8:1-2 (ESV)
The grace of God which was working in them…resulted in their generosity. So, He made them generous. Now, do you suppose this works in other areas also? I think so. That is, if you are strong in prayer, He put it into your heart to be a person who seeks Him. If you are a person who knows the Bible, He made you to love it. He is always previous. O, I want to remember to think this way! First, it moves me to prayer (“Father, make me___________”), and second, it is a great deliverance from imagining I am superior to anyone else. In fact, it is the only healthy way for a Christian or anyone else to think. So whatever good we have, whether generosity, or intelligence, or love, or prayerfulness, or anything else good, He gets all the glory.
And therefore, as Paul said, “Thanks be to God!”
For Monday, June 8th: 2 Corinthians 9