2 Corinthians 8-13
Expecting Jesus to return immediately, many of the members of the Jerusalem church quit their jobs and pooled their resources. Fifteen plus years later, the church members began to be in serious financial need. In response, Paul begins a two-year collection from his churches in Asia Minor, Macedonia and Greece, to help support the saints in Jerusalem. Chapters 8 and 9 detail this collection, which was also mentioned in 1 Corinthians. Paul reminds us that “the Lord loves a cheerful giver” and that we are called to give in proportion to what we have. Most importantly, he identifies generosity as a spiritual practice, designed to help us emulate Jesus.
How do you practice financial generosity? Do you see it as part of your spiritual life? What is the next step in that portion of your spiritual journey?
After this discussion, Paul returns to the issue of the “super-apostles.” These are other leaders in the church at Corinth (perhaps new missionaries in the area) who are disparaging Paul and elevating themselves. Notice how Paul defends himself; he lists all the ways he has suffered for Jesus and the gospel.
If you were called to defend your faith, how would you do it? If you were to make a list of ways that you have been privileged to suffer for Jesus, what would be on your list? Is it important that we demonstrate self-sacrifice for Jesus?
Paul’s conversation in chapter 12 about “the thorn in my flesh” is fascinating. We don’t know if this refers to a physical ailment, a private habitual sin, or something else entirely. But God’s response to Paul rings true for us as well. God says, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
Do you have a “thorn in the flesh”? Why do you think that God sometimes doesn’t immediately heal or change us? How does our weakness magnify God’s strength?
Can you affirm that his grace is sufficient for you today?
Galatians is written to a group of churches in the region of Galatia. The central conflict in those churches is a movement to require all Christians to become Jews (be circumcised, etc). Can you articulate why Paul thinks this is a salvation-level crisis?
Pay attention to the use of the word “freedom” in the letter. What does Paul mean by this term?
Paul famously lists “the fruit of the spirit” in Galatians. Which of these do you see in your own life?
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