Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dollars and Cents

II Corinthians 2:5-13

“A penny saved is a penny earned.”

“Take care of the pennies, and the dollars will take care of themselves.”

“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.”

These old adages are often dismissed in our day but they are still good advice about succeeding in this world. Taking care of small details is essential for success in any project. Too many small expenditures can wipe out huge incomes. Too much focus on new customers, neglecting the old ones may destroy a business.

At the same time, we can become so focused on saving a penny that we lose far more. At $4.00 per gallon for gas, even saving 10 cents per gallon, you will only save $1 on ten gallons of gas. That dollar will only buy enough gas to go 5 miles if your car gets 20 miles per gallon. Looking for another station might require more gas than the dollar you save will buy. If the difference is only a penny, it will only save enough gas for about 5 blocks. To drive farther out of your way than the amount saved will pay for is actually wasting money. Taking care of the pennies involves more than just the immediate savings. Failure to realize this makes one “penny wise and pound foolish,”

These same principles are applicable in building a church. In I Corinthians 5, Paul had instructed the church to put a man out of the church. The man was living a lifestyle that he obviously knew was wrong, and had refused to stop his sin. It was not a one time occurrence. The church had followed up on Paul’s advice, and it had the desired effect of causing the man to turn from his sin. While the man has sinned, he has not lost his salvation, and the church needs to forgive and comfort the man now. They need to show their love to prevent losing him completely.

“But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him. For to this end also did I write, that I might know the proof of you, whether ye be obedient in all things.” (II Corinthians 2:5-9)

Just as taking care of the pennies involves more than simply paying less for gas. Taking care of the church requires Dealing with sin properly, but it also requires being alert to repentance, and dealing with it properly as well. If we are going to obey God, we have to be willing to forgive completely. While we may not give them back the exact position they had, we cannot hold back our acceptance of them.

To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sakes forgave I it in the person of Christ; Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” (II Corinthians 2:10-11)

As a concerned outsider, only slightly affected by the man’s sin, Paul was obligated to forgive the man as well. To refuse to forgive on the church’s part or on Paul’s part would give Satan an advantage over them, which he would use to cause separations, an unspiritual state.

“Furthermore, when I came to Troas to preach Christ's gospel, and a door was opened unto me of the Lord, I had no rest in my spirit, because I found not Titus my brother: but taking my leave of them, I went from thence into Macedonia.” (II Corinthians 2:12-13)

At Troas, Paul had an opportunity to preach, and possibly see many saved, but his concern for Titus compelled him to go to Macedonia seeking Titus. Building up Titus would certainly contribute to the spread of the Gospel, while preaching in Troas might produce little results. Letting Titus go for the people in Troas might lose Titus without gaining anything. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in reaching new Christians that we forget part of the great commission.

“Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” (Matthew 28:19-20)

The first teach, matheteuo, “to disciple” is to win them to Christ. The second word teaching is didasko “to teach,” is about teaching them to serve Christ after they are saved. Getting people saved is only the beginning of the job. It is not complete until they have been taught. While we are to win souls, we mustn’t neglect the Christians to reach the unsaved. Both jobs are part of the great commission. Think what we’d have lost if Barnabas had not reached out to Paul in Acts 9, or to Mark in Acts 15.

Building up the Christians is just as important as getting people saved. If we fail to do so, the church has no earthly future. Our current Spiritual state in the United States is the result of neglecting this in the past.

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