Do What You Can, not What You Can’t

I say this not as a command, but to prove by the earnestness of others that your love also is genuine. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. 10 And in this matter I give my judgment: this benefits you, who a year ago started not only to do this work but also to desire to do it. 11 So now finish doing it as well, so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by your completing it out of what you have. 12 For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have.  – 2 Corinthians 8:8-12

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The Astronomical Clock is a marvel of 15th century engineering genius. The clock was first installed in 1410, making it the third-oldest astronomical clock in the world and the oldest one still operating. Prague, Czech Republic | August 2017

“Gentlemen, the world needs a Savior, and you are not him.” So says my friend and seminary classmate – now seminary professor – regularly to his students. Good advice. There is only one Jesus. We may well be his hands and feet in the world today. We may have one opportunity after another to do good in his name. We may offer love, care, compassion, kindness, and mercy in Jesus’ name – and well we should. But we won’t save anyone; that’s Jesus’ job. And it’s been accomplished. That’s what Paul refers to in these powerful words:

For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. (v. 9)

The One who had it all, gave it all up for us. His sacrifice atoned for our sins, and made a way for us to access the love of the Father for us and experience his goodness for all eternity.

Then comes the call for the fruits of faith. We have been saved, now we are commanded to love God and love our neighbor. We will never do these commandments perfectly, but the words here by Paul really do help:

For if the readiness is there, it is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. (v. 12)

We may be tempted to do nothing at all because we cannot do it all. We may say we can’t do anything because we can’t do everything. We may think that if we can’t do something perfectly, we shouldn’t do anything. Someone once said, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing poorly.” In other words, if we believe we must have everything completely lined up before we try to take a step at all, we’ll never take the essential first step.

The gift is acceptable according to what a person has, not according to what he does not have. In other words, God is delighted if we just show up in someone’s life and give what we’ve got. Perhaps someone you know – or even someone you don’t know – is ready for you to give your little, imperfect, start-up gift. It may be the catalyst for God’s grace to leverage great things for the glory of his name. In fact that may well be the key to Jesus’ command:

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 5:16

1 comment
  1. Susan Daniel said:

    Having had surgery, this title made me feel better. Laundry for flood victims is what I can do.

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