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. 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.  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. [2 co 8:8-11]
how do we prove that our love is genuine?
we do the work of being extravagant givers of grace.
for those of you who know me, you know I am convinced of the sovereignty of God. he is the orchestrator of all things. all things were created for him and through him[ john 1:3]. he calls us, predestines us, saves us and ultimately glorifies us [romans 8:30] for his namesake [psalm 106:8, and lots of others].
but if God “does” all things and “works” everything to his glory why are we then called to “do”?
perhaps if we re-oriented our thinking. we don’t work because God has need of us. we work because we GET to. God, in his glorious sovereign design allows us to be vessels of his sovereignty. God uses means in order to accomplish his awesome ends. God in his generous grace makes us agents of mercy and grace. we don’t do it out of duty, we do it out of gratitude–we get to.
God doesn’t NEED our money to accomplish his works.
God lets us participate by being free with our money, and kills our addiction to its power by letting us give it to those in need.
God doesn’t NEED our prayers to heal.
God lets us cry out to him, pleading for healing, pleading for his sovereign power over life and death and nature to be displayed, so when bodies heal, we cannot exalt ourselves, we can only exalt the King who holds the universe in his power.
God doesn’t NEED us in order to save.
God lets us be ambassadors of life, being those to proclaim the name of Christ to the dying, so when people pass from death to life we get to see the depth of his grace, the absolute supreme authority over unfeeling, cold dead hearts of unrepentant sinners.
all of these examples are work–work that is accomplished by his ordained means through his people who he has called.
and i have other sheep that are not of this fold. i must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. so there will be one flock, one shepherd. [john 10:16]
how then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? and how are they to hear without someone preaching? and how are they to preach unless they are sent? as it is written,“how beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” [romans 10:14-15]
this is the “get to” of the giving of grace. we are sent. obedience is the means of how he distributes the glory of Christ. this is the “work” of the gospel.
like the corinthians, through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ we have started this work–let us desire to do it–and dedicate our life to finish doing it well.