Beyond Promises

2 Corinthians 8:11 (ESV)

So now finish doing [this work] as well

so that your readiness in desiring it may be matched by

your completing it out of what you have.

Do you give willingly?

“There is a great difference between promise and performance.”[1] The difference between the two is straightforward. Just because I promise does not guarantee my appropriate performance will follow. For many examples, look into US politics. We’ve been time and time again witness to politicians whose promises did not match their performance. Turning to today’s passage, we are aware of another setting where the promise was not followed by adequate performance, the church in Corinth. The Corinthians had promised Titus, an associate of Apostle Paul, they would share in a special collection for the poor Christians of Judea. At the time of the writing of 2 Corinthians they had not kept their promise. Paul had confidence that with a little coaxing they would follow through, “now finish doing it.” I’ve got a good feeling we Christians throughout the history of the church have made promises God may still be waiting for us to follow through. We may also have made promises to each other with little performance to show for it. The good news is that there can still be time. The even better news is that God seems to never expect more than a performance to match “what you have.” In the excitement of the moment we may have over promised a time or two … or three. How about the ever-present keyboard setting in First Church, Anywhere, USA, that has yet to be paid off by pledges, made especially painful in that there is no longer anyone to regularly play it? I have seen the source of such empty pledges: guilt giving. It has been written, “Guilty feelings make it difficult to think straight.” Guilt can make us promise when we would have been better off waiting. Paul’s suggestion to the Corinthians, do not exceed “your readiness in desiring it.” In other words, give willingly. Prayerfully move beyond promises, while being aware of your willingness, completing your realistic promises out of “what you have.”  

“If you can’t do something willingly and joyfully, then don’t do it.” Peter O’Toole, British actor

Stephen L. Hodges © 2021

[1] Wiersbee, Warren, Bible Exposition Commentary (BE Series) – New Testament

About Pastor Steve

Pastor Steve Hodges is an ordained minister, pastoring a church in central Virginia.
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