by James A. Fowler
Paul makes a major point of the follow-through of Christian giving as he writes to the Corinthians in II Corinthians 8 and 9.
The Corinthians had voiced their discernment of what God wanted to do, what God wanted to give, through them. The choice had been made, the purposing of God's will. Then, due to circumstances of estrangement with the apostle Paul, the Corinthians had not followed-through.
"...this is to your advantage, who were the first to begin a year ago not only to do this, but also to desire to do it. But now finish doing it also; that just as there was the readiness to desire it, so there may be also the completion of it by your ability." (II Corinthians 8:10,11)
"So I thought it necessary to urge the brethren that they would go on ahead of you and arrange beforehand your previously promised bountiful gift, that the same might be ready as a bountiful gift, and not affected by covetousness." (II Corinthians 9:5)
If we are convinced of what God wants us to do, and express our willingness, readiness and availability, then it should follow-through to completion in order to express the faithfulness of God. God is a faithful God. What He starts, He finishes! What He commences, He completes! What He instigates, He implements! God does not quit in mid-stream. He does not go off half-cocked to do a half-finished job.
In Luke 14:27-33 Jesus speaks of true discipleship, likening it to a man who wants to build a tower, and must first sit down and calculate the cost, to see if he has enough to complete it. Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation, and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying "this man began to build and was not able to finish."
It is important that we follow-through and express the faithfulness of the givingness of God. If God has prompted us to do something and we do not follow-through, we feel guilty, we quench the Spirit (I Thess. 5:20), we sin. There is a saying, "Impression without expression brings depression." If God has impressed us with what He wants to do and we do not allow for His expression then we will end up depressed and discouraged and unfulfilled.
Paul reminds the Corinthians in II Cor. 9:5 of "their previously promised bountiful gift." He does not want the Corinthians to get caught up in the second-thoughts of procrastination which often amount to covetousness and greed, holding onto things for oneself. It is not a matter of having to follow-through because we "promised," but consistency of faithfulness demands that we continue to be available to God's givingness through us. God is a faithful God who follows-through on what He purposes to do, and on what He has caused us to purpose in accord with His will in our hearts. Of course, if our intent to give was just emotionally motivated in the first place instead of God-prompted, then we probably will not follow-through, because emotions are fickle and fade out. That is why so many "pledges" and "promises" remain unfinished and uncompleted, a testament to emotional impulse.
If God has impressed His desire upon us, His will does not fade out. He is an eternally faithful God who completes that which He commences and finishes that which He starts. God follows through!
copy;1999 by James A. Fowler
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