I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. (2 Corinthians 12:15 ESV)
Scripture provides many examples of what it means to “spend” and “be spent” for the glory of God and the good of others. To be sure, there is no better example than our Lord Jesus Christ, but today I want to encourage you with a brief look at the apostle Paul.
Ministry is costly. One of my seminary professors told us, “Don’t go into full-time vocational ministry unless there is nothing else you can do.” Initially I misunderstood; I thought he was saying, “If all else fails in life, you can go into ministry.” Today I am a lot older and a little wiser, and I realize that our instructor was warning us that the weight of ministry is so great that only those who are called by God can bear it, because it can only be done in His strength.
The high price of ministry reaches into all areas of life: physical, emotional, mental, financial, and, of course, the spiritual. Yet every Christian, regardless of his or her vocation, is called to minister for the glory of God and the good of others, and that too is quite costly. The key to living a life marked by “spend and be spent” is found in today’s verse. Paul was essentially telling the church at Corinth . . .
I seek not what is yours but you!
We cannot and will not spend and be spent if we are focused on what we are going to get in return. We don’t give to get; we simply give. We don’t serve to be served; we simply serve. And remember, our decision to continue in the process of spending and being spent has nothing to do with the response we receive from others. Paul ministered to one of the most ungrateful, unfaithful, and undeserving groups of people in the church at that time: the Corinthians. But because Paul kept his focus where it needed to be—on Jesus—he continued pouring out his life for the sake of others. Paul know that the life of his Lord was defined by “spend and be spent,” and he simply wanted to be like his Savior, giving every ounce of himself for the lives of others.
Can the same be said of you and me? If you think about it for a moment, the reality is that all of us are spending and being spent; the only question is whether we are doing it for self or for the Savior. Only by fixing our eyes on Jesus will we be able to continue to pour ourselves out for others, regardless of the cost or circumstance. That is how Paul ministered to those worldly Christians at Corinth, and that is how you and I will be able to continue expending and being utterly expended for the glory of God and the good of others . . . all others.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!