Be sincere – especially when it comes to money - 20 January 2017

Xanthe Hancox

Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God.  2 Corinthians 2:17

Paul's critics in Corinth doubted his motives. We’ve already seen how they doubted his intentions to visit them and suggested he wasn’t transparent when he spoke about it (2 Corinthians 1:15-18).

Now it seems people are doubting his reasons for preaching the Word of God. Could people trust that he really believed what he was preaching, or was he doing it just to make money like the “peddlers of God’s word” who could be found in any Roman city? It appears he did not want to be lumped together with the philosophers and politicians of his day who charged hefty fees for their speeches.

People were using God’s Word to make a quick buck in Paul’s day much like they are today. Our world is full of religious racketeers who are doing exactly what Paul called here, "peddling God's word;" marketing it for profit like cars, cellphones and chocolate.

Paul says, "We are not like that."

Instead he and his co-workers were “persons of sincerity.” They were quite clearly not going from place to place preaching the gospel in order to get rich; they understood that they were sent by God and answered to God.

This reminds us that motivation is not just a private matter, espe­cially when it comes to money. The way we handle money shines like a laser pointer on the question of our sincerity as Christians. People want to see whether we handle money in accordance with our high principles or ditch our principles when there’s money to be made. Are we lax with our expense accounts? Do we hide income under the table? Do we en­gage in dubious tax shelters? Do we push for raises, commissions, and bonuses at the expense of others? Do we take financial advantage of people in difficult circumstances? Do we twist contracts to gain a dispro­portionate financial gain? The question is not only whether we can justify ourselves, but also whether those around us can recognize that our ac­tions are consistent with Christian beliefs. If not, we bring dishonor to ourselves and to the name of Christ.

Prayer: Lord, thank you that, though twenty centuries have rolled away since those days, you have not changed, nor has the world changed, nor have we; that your power is as manifest and as powerful today as ever, and you can handle this age as well as you did any age, or any place, or time. We thank you, Lord, that we may be your instruments in this day, and good stewards of our money. Amen.

Work for the joy of others - 19 January 2017

Xanthe Hancox

Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, because it is by faith you stand firm.  2 Corinthians 1:24

Even though he was an apostle with God-given authority, Paul brought joy to others by the way he led them—not lording it over them but working alongside them. This explains why he was such an effective leader and why the people associated with him became strong and reli­able co-workers. Paul’s words echo what Jesus said to his disciples when they were arguing about who among them was the greatest:

Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves. (Luke 22:25–26)

The essence of Christian work, Paul maintains, is nothing less than working alongside others to help them attain greater joy.

What would our homes, campuses and offices look like if we tried to bring others joy through the way we treat them?

To bring people joy doesn’t mean trying to make everyone happy all the time, but treating those around us as people of value and dignity, as Paul did. When we pay attention to others’ needs, including the need to be respected and the need to be entrusted with meaningful work, we follow Paul’s own example.

Have you given yourself fully to the tasks with which God has entrusted you? Will you start today?

Prayer:  Father, thank you for your love for us, even when we are stretched beyond our own resources and find ourselves far out of our comfort zone. Thank you for teaching us. Thank you for your patience with us. Now teach us to bring joy to others as you have brought joy to us. Amen.

 

Wees opreg – veral waar dit geld aangaan - 20 Januarie 2017

Xanthe Hancox

Ons, omdat ons nie is soos baie ander wat geld maak uit die woord van God nie. Ons verkondig die woord in opregtheid, in verbondenheid met Christus, in opdrag van God en in verantwoordelikheid aan God.  2 Korintiërs 2:17

Paulus se kritici in Korinte het sy motiewe betwyfel. Ons het reeds gesien hoe hulle sy voornemens om hulle te besoek, bevraagteken het en gesuggereer het dat hy nie deursigtig was toe hy daaroor gepraat het nie. (2 Korintiërs1:15-18)

Nou blyk dit dat mense sy redes om die woord van God te verkondig, in twyfel trek. Kan mense hom werklik vertrou dat hy dit wat hy preek self glo of doen hy dit net om geld te maak soos "baie ander wat met God se woord smous" en in feitlik elke Romeinse stad te vinde was? Dit is egter duidelik dat Paulus nie saamgegroepeer wou word met die filosowe en politici van sy dag wat baie geld vir hulle toesprake gevra het nie.

Mense het in Paulus se tyd, soos ook vandag die geval is, die woord van God gebruik om vinnig geld te maak. Ons wêreld is vol godsdienstige kansvatters wat "met God se woord smous" en dit soos motors, selfone en sjokolade slegs vir wins bemark.

Paulus sê: "Ons is nie soos hulle nie."  Hy en sy medewerkers "verkondig die woord in opregtheid". Dit is duidelik dat hulle nie van plek tot plek gegaan het om die evangelie te verkondig om ryk te word nie; hulle het verstaan dat hulle deur God gestuur is met 'n verantwoordelikheid aan Hom.

Dit maak ons bewus daarvan dat die motivering om iets te doen nie net 'n private aangeleentheid is nie, veral wanneer geld ter sprake is. Die manier wat ons geld hanteer, skyn soos 'n laserstraal op die vraag hoe opreg ons as Christene is. Mense wil sien of die manier wat ons geld hanteer in lyn is met ons beginsels of vergeet ons van ons beginsels wanneer ons geld kan maak? Is ons onverskillig met ons uitgawes? Steek ons inkomste weg vir die ontvanger van inkomste? Raak ons betrokke by twyfelagtige belastingskuilings? Vra ons vir verhogings, kommissie en bonusse ten koste van ander? Probeer ons finansieel voordeel trek uit mense se moeilike omstandighede? Verdraai ons kontrakte ter wille van finansiële gewin? Die vraag is nie net of ons onsself kan regverdig nie, maar of mense kan sien dat ons aksies met ons Christelike geloof ooreenkom. Indien nie, doen ons oneer aan onsself, maar meer nog aan die Naam van Christus.

Gebed: Here, dankie dat alhoewel twintig eeue verbygegaan het sedert die tyd van Paulus, het U nie verander nie. U krag is vandag steeds dieselfde. Dankie Here dat ons u instrumente mag wees in hierdie tyd en help ons om goeie rentmeesters te wees van geld wat U aan ons toevertrou.  Amen

Werk vir ander se geluk - 19 Januarie 2017

Xanthe Hancox

Ons wil nie as heersers voorskryf wat julle moet glo nie. Julle staan immers vas in die geloof. Maar ons wil medewerkers wees om julle geluk te bevorder. 2 Korintiërs 1:24

Selfs as 'n apostel met gesag van God, het Paulus probeer om ander se geluk te bevorder in die manier wat hy hulle gelei het – hy het nie probeer om hulle te oorheers nie, maar eerder om saam met hulle te werk. Dit verduidelik hoekom hy so 'n effektiewe leier was en hoekom diegene wat met hom geassosieer het, sterk en betroubare medewerkers geword het. Die woorde van Paulus in ons teks herhaal iets van Jesus se woorde toe Hy met sy dissipels gepraat het toe hulle gestry het oor wie die belangrikste was. "Maar Jesus sê vir hulle: “By die nasies is dit so: konings speel oor hulle baas, en dié wat gesag afdwing, laat hulleself weldoeners noem. Maar by julle moet dit nie so wees nie. Inteendeel, die belangrikste onder julle moet soos die geringste wees, en die een wat die leier is, soos die een wat dien." (Lukas 22:25-26)

Die kern van Christelike werk is volgens Paulus dat ons as medewerkers moet saamwerk en ander moet help om gelukkiger te wees.

Hoe sal ons huise, kampusse en kantore daar uitsien as ons as Christene werk om ander se geluk te bevorder deur die manier wat ons hulle hanteer?

Om mense se geluk te bevorder beteken nie noodwendig om almal altyd gelukkig te hou nie, maar om, soos Paulus, almal met wie ons in aanraking kom, se menswaardigheid te resepkteer. Wanneer ons aandag gee aan ander se behoeftes, insluitende die behoefte aan respek en om met betekenisvolle werk vertrou te word, dan volg ons Paulus se voorbeeld.

Is jy ten volle betrokke by hierdie taak wat God aan ons toevertrou het? Hoekom nie sommer vandag nog daarmee begin nie?

Gebed: Hemelse Vader, dankie dat U ons liefhet. Dankie dat U ons onderrig. Dankie vir u geduld met ons. Leer ons hoe om blydskap aan ander te bring soos U blydskap aan ons gebring het. Amen

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