Wednesday, March 4, 2009

beyond their ability

Holy Holy Holy by Joel C. Sheesley

Our strengths and weaknesses are usually two sides of the same coin. Even Michael Scott knows this (re-watch his interview scene from the Season 3 finale if you're not following... priceless). One of my strengths is that I am willing to put forth great effort to make sure that whatever I do is done well. The flip side is that I sometimes resist doing things unless I'm reasonably sure I'll be able to do them well, or at least up to a certain standard.

Strange to say, but the 1st century Macedonian church is kind of kicking my butt on this right now. Here is what Paul has to say about them in the first 7 verses of 2 Corinthians 8:

1And now, brothers, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. 2Out of the most severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. 3For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, 4they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints. 5And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God's will. 6So we urged Titus, since he had earlier made a beginning, to bring also to completion this act of grace on your part. 7But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

The Macedonians heard about a need, and though they were themselves impoverished, they gave generously. Their lack of ability did not hold them back, because they trusted God to provide what was needed.

In this particular instance, Paul is describing a specific situation involving a financial offering, but I wonder if this could be applied more generally. How often do we sense the call of God, but resist it on the grounds that we lack ability? I am so worried about doing things well... forgetting that I am dust, and that what I do is only what God does through me.

Yesterday I made a list of things I am holding in tension. Here's one more for the list:

I want to do great things for God.
I can only do great things through God.

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