Beyond the Gospels: Corinthians

Today’s Scripture: 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
(Click on the link for today’s reading.)

Paul is encouraging those in Corinth to give generously, and something gets my attention.

Last year you were the first not only to give, but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work… –vs. 10-11

I’m really good at beginnings. I love the newness of it. New beginnings… new things… are wonderful when they are new. In the children’s sermon this week we talked about my love for a new box of crayons, and the preacher spoke of his love for new cars. In his sermon, Doug gave us some background on the phrase “brand new.”

According to folks a lot smarter than myself at the Online Etymology Dictionary, the phrase actually comes from an Old English word that means “fire, flame; firebrand, piece of burning wood, torch.” Even ol’ Bill Shakespeare instead of writing “brand-new” used the term “fire-new.”  

The Corinthians must have experienced that “on fire” feeling when they first had the desire to give. You know the excitement and burning when God is leading us into something new. But a year had gone by and maybe that fire had dwindled to nothing but a smolder. Oh, that we would all have a Paul in our lives. Someone who would say without hesitation, “Now finish the work.”

Time has a way of turning our brand new into mere ashes. We get burned up and burned out. We get fired up about something, but walking through the fire to completion is tough. The Psalmist writes:

For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.— Psalm 66:10

Refining takes heat, lots of heat. As we walk through fire to completion those things separating us from God are revealed and we are refined. God is faithful to complete what He starts. He is not willing to leave us partially done. Yes, it might get hot along the way. There are times we feel all burned up. Maybe the old saying is true, “Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.” Maybe whisps of white smoke rising are just a signal that we’re moving through fire to completion… from new beginnings to something brand new…

Lord, keep the fire of brand new faith burning in my heart and life.

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