So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well...- 2 Corinthians 12:15
I am challenged to the core of my being by this statement of Paul to the church at Corinth. It shows so much of his heart, and how much he was willing to do for them. It also shows just how much he had been conformed to the perfect example of Jesus Christ. For me personally, it shows how far I have yet to go in the journey of sanctification…growth into Christ-like maturity.
This statement devastates the selfishness which so characterizes our day. The natural state of the human heart is selfish… we easily think about what we like, what benefits us, what is comfortable for us. We reflect that intense concern for self with all the stewardship decisions we make every day: how we spend our time, our money, our gifts/talents, our physical energy. Other people can come to be seen as an interruption, an obstacle to our personal happiness. Paul had such a different perspective: other people were a pathway to personal happiness through a total outpouring of himself. Note that Paul said he would very gladly spend everything he had for the Corinthians. It is just as he had said earlier, “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9:7). Paul found his personal pleasure and delight in pouring himself out for others. Isn’t this what love is? Finding my pleasure in your pleasure… that’s love.
But at what cost? How much was Paul willing to spend for the Corinthians? Look at it again: “So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have, and expend myself as well.” Paul offered up for them all his possessions and himself…everything of which he could say, “This is mine.” Therefore, Paul saw himself as filled up with blessings from God which God intended that he pour out on the Corinthians…poured out like sweet perfume to bless them. Nothing was spared, nothing of Paul’s was held back, nothing of which he said, “Yes, all the other things…but not that—it’s too precious to me.”
And for whom was Paul willing to do this? For the contentious, argumentative, unlovely, sinful Corinthians. The very ones who questioned his calling as an apostle. The ones who were causing him so much personal grief. For them, he was glad to pour himself out to total emptiness, and to do it “very gladly.”
How much is this like Christ? Jesus Christ emptied Himself of all His glory, of His heavenly position and pleasures, to come to earth. And on earth, He continued to empty Himself, always taking the place of humble servitude. The final destination of this downward journey was the cross. At the cross, all of Jesus’ personal possessions were stripped from Him: “They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing” (John 19:24). Then, he spent Himself as well, His lifeblood poured out to atone for sins. When He said “It is finished,” He had literally nothing left to give…totally poured out for us. And with what heart did He do it? “Very gladly!!” “…who for the joy set before Him endured the cross” (Heb. 12:2). Paul was being conformed to the pattern of His Savior when he gladly offered the Corinthians everything he had and himself as well.
"Isn’t this what love is? Finding my pleasure in your pleasure… that’s love."
And finally, how much is this like our heavenly Father? Just as Paul didn’t spare anything from the Corinthians, just as Jesus Christ didn’t spare anything He had for His sheep, so the Father didn’t spare what was most precious to Him: “He who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all…” (Rom. 8:32). God “very gladly” poured out His Son for a hateful world. What are you sparing in your loving service to Him? Are you holding anything back? And when you give, do you do it “very gladly,” for the joy of blessing others? Ask God to make you like Jesus, they way He worked in Paul! Then pour yourself out completely with gladness!