|Volume 23 Number 9 September 2021
T. Pierce Brown
Many times, I have said as I preached about some duty, “When you have done what you can, where you are, with what you have, this is all God expects of you.” I may have added on various occasions something like, “What more can you do? One can only do what he has the power to do.” Those statements may be basically true, but there is a more tremendous and significant truth in 2 Corinthians 8:3 where Paul said of the churches in Macedonia, “For according to their power, I bear witness, yea and beyond their power, they gave of their own accord.”
When I discovered that truth several years ago, although I continued to teach that every one of us should do what we can, where we are and with what we have, I added another greater truth. That is, when you do what you can, God will enable you to do what you cannot with what you did not have. You will be able not only to give beyond your power but to do many other things beyond your power.
We could give examples from our own experiences and observations that prove this is true, but two illustrations from the Bible will be better. Peter did not have the power walk on water, but he did walk on water (Matthew 14:29). The key to it is simple. When he heard the command of Jesus, he did it. He did what he could, where he was, with what he had, and the Lord then gave him power to do what he could not.
Again, in John 6:9, we have a lad with five barley loaves and two fish. The apostles thought, as we would have, “What are these among so many?” One boy cannot use his lunch to feed five thousand! He did what he could, where he was, with what he had, and Jesus gave him the power to do what he could not with what he did not have.
One could argue, “Those were miracles, and God does not work that way today.” It is true that those were miracles, but the eternal principles of God remain true. God continues to do for us what He did to the Macedonians, for the principles are eternally true. For example, you may take a handful of corn. You may selfishly keep that handful for yourself and eat it, and you may prevent hunger pangs for a short period. Suppose you decided to sacrifice it and give it into the care of God so He could use it to feed other persons. Those hundred grains of corn could be put into God’s earth, and each grain will produce at least 1,000 other grains, or what Jesus calls a hundredfold. That is just the first year, directly from what you did. It is possible, even probable, that your sacrificial deed would lead 100 or 1,000 others to do likewise, in which case the multitudes that would be fed would stagger the imagination. There simply is no limit we can put on what God would be able to do through us if each one of us would simply do what we could, where we are, with what we have, and then try to make a sacrifice a little beyond our ability.
Without asserting that God is working miracles today, I am neither afraid nor ashamed to assert that if every Christian would take seriously what we have said, reading 2 Corinthians 9:8-11 in faith, and acting on that faith, there is no work on earth that God wants done that could not be done.
The Beloved of God
Ronald D. Reeves
Biblical terminology is instructive as we consider our feelings about our brethren. Collectively, brethren are spoken of as beloved in Rome (9:25), Corinth (1 Corinthians 10:14), Philippi (Philippians 2:12), Colosse (Colossians 3:12), Thessalonica (1 Thessalonians 1:4) and Asia (1 Peter 2:11). Brethren are also described as beloved of God (Romans 1:7), beloved sons (1 Corinthians 4:14), beloved brethren (1 Corinthians 15:58) and portrayed as the beloved City (Revelation 20:9). Individually, the Bible describes several as beloved, including Paul (2 Peter 3:15), Luke (Colossians 4:14), Philemon (1:1), Onesimus (Colossians 4:9), Timothy (1 Corinthians 4:17), Tychicus (Ephesians 6:21) and the Christ (Ephesians 1:6). These mortal brethren were neither sinless nor without personal fault. Yet, the inspired writers freely used the above descriptive terms to illustrate their personal disposition of heart toward the brethren. May I suggest that we should do no less. As the challenges of life overtake each of us and as we fail to fulfill others’ expectations of us, may we maintain an endeared state with one another so that, regardless of our imperfections, we are still beloved one of another. Such a disposition will take us far as we maintain and exercise our mutual fellowship. May the Lord bless each of us as we commit ourselves anew to such a worthy goal.