2 Corinthians 8:16-24 New King James Version (NKJV)
Collection for the Judean Saints
16 But thanks be to God who puts the same earnest care for you into the heart of Titus.
17 For he not only accepted the exhortation, but being more diligent, he went to you of his own accord.
18 And we have sent with him the brother whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches,
19 and not only that, but who was also chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift, which is administered by us to the glory of the Lord Himself and to show your ready mind,
20 avoiding this: that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift which is administered by us—
21 providing honorable things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.
22 And we have sent with them our brother whom we have often proved diligent in many things, but now much more diligent, because of the great confidence which we have in you.
23 If anyone inquires about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker concerning you. Or if our brethren are inquired about, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ.
24 Therefore show to them, and[b] before the churches, the proof of your love and of our boasting on your behalf.
How easily we often blame someone, when disappointment, difficulties or accidents happen.
--Some even bame God. Other people, or themselves.
--Why play the blame game? Or blame God, or anyone?
--Better to fix the problem, than fix the blame.
The Bible has more to say about being blameless than the word blame - only six times we read of "blame."
--The word "blameless" occurs some fifteen times.
--"Blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus" (I Cor. 1:8).
--"That you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault .." (Phil. 2:15).
Yet some are quick to blame others -even God - in a terrorist attack, or some disaster, declaring, "God, the Almighty, should have prevented this!" Judging!
--People are heard to blame God for whatever happens.
--But is God to blame? He made us. Loves, saves us.
--We have an enemy, Satan. God gives us the victory.
All kinds of people surround us on the earth.
--Not all are good and godly, nor are "born again."
--Jeremiah 18:9 says, "The heart is deceitful, above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?"
--Furthermore, there is a devil, and many demons, all against us. We get mixed up. We need God's grace.
--So let's not be hasty in putting blame on God - for God is not to blame - nor to blame any but Satan.
--"Be found by (God) in peace, blameless" (2 Peter 3:14).
So in II Corinthians 8 Paul and others are taking an offering in the churches for the Jerusalem needy.
--All who handle money know how essential it is keeping careful, accurate records of integrity, so that there be no evil, or even any appearance of it.
--Paul says, Titus was doing this, along with a brother in the Lord in that church "whose praise is in the gospel throughout all the churches" (v18).
--A brother who was "chosen by the churches to travel with us with this gift .. to the glory of the Lord."
--Why? "Avoiding" any blame, or criticism, "that anyone should blame, or criticism, "that anyone should blame us in this lavish gift" (v 20).
--To be right with God, and in the sight of all men.
Circle in your Bible II Corinthians 8:21, "providing honorable (honest) things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men." Ponder it.
--All our life should be thought of as a record, or a recording, that we must give account of, one day.
--So that, as best we can with God's Spirit, we will be as near "blameless" as the Lord can make us.
--Do all things, so that no one can ever blame God!
God made a perfect world; but we are imperfect folks.
--You recall in Genesis 3, the entrance of sin, that when Adam and Eve yielded to the Serpent of Satan, that they began playing the blame game.
--Adam blamed Eve, and indirectly blamed God, "the woman You (God) gave me, she gave me .. and I ate."
--In Genesis 3:13, Eve in turn blamed the devil, saying, "The serpent decieved me, and I ate."
--So all of us, ever since, are tempted to blame.
--That is another reason we all need a Savior.
--There is no Savior but Jesus Christ, our Lord!
We see suffering and sin began in a garden, in Eden.
--It has not stopped, and won't till Jesus returns.
--Our Risen Redeemer is coming again, He promised.
--And it could be soon, for worsening of morality as well as so many other signs, tell us to be prepared.
In Mt. Clemens, MI, our people built for God a large, beautiful church on 10 acres; parking and ball field.
--Outstanding architect. Fine contractors. Helpers.
--Many working nights..and days, in many fine ways.
--The paint contractor and family were "born again."
--They had one child, a lovely teen-age daughter.
--It was a loving, devoted family. A joy to know.
--Later, they went deer hunting up North, as some do.
--As the trip was ending, packing the car, the rifle accidently went off and took the daughter's life.
What heartbreak for these loving parents to lose, so young, and in this way, their only precious child.
--The whole church, and community, wept with them.
--Prayed with, and for them, and that dear Dad.
--It was one of the hardest funerals I ever faced.
--And the follow-up ministry to those dear parents.
--Avoid blame. Don't go to "pieces," get God's peace.
--I told them that God loved her - and them - so dear and not to blame anyone. It was an accident!
--Accidents can happen! To anyone. And any time.
--What good to rehearse blame, with guilt-trips?
--Rejoice that the daughter was saved, with Jesus!
--"I go to prepare a place for you .. let not your heart be troubled .. where I am there you may be also" and many other precious promises of God's comfort.
Even as I write this, I choke up, remembering sorrows these dear friends endured. And, so graciously!
--They rejoiced in their memories, and the good times they had had together .. and will .. in heaven too.
--Thank God, they accepted it as God's time, for her.
You and I, dear believing friend, face uncertainties.
--Daily, praise God, you have the Savior, loved ones.
--His Word, His comfort and presence, to bless us.
May I briefly share some beliefs we can live by?
--Make sure of this certainty for your own faith.
--A God found in Scripture. Revealed in Jesus.
--For Jesus proved His deity and love, on a cross.
--For our sins, not His. A debt we could not pay.
--A debt Jesus did not owe, but suffered for us.
--Let's love Him with all our "heart, mind, soul."
--And as Jesus said, "Love our neighbor as ourself."
Calamities can come. Can shatter hopes and dreams.
--So let us grow in "grace and knowledge" to obey.
--In time, we may lose loved ones, when a part of us is gone. Let us so believe, they are with God.
Never forget, that God suffers too, when we suffer.
--As God, Jesus came to earth. Even to Gethsemane.
--Up Calvary. To a rugged, cruel cross; He died.
--He knows our lot. Endured our heartaches and hurt.
--Even now, in our trials, is with us. He cares!
--O yes, He cares. What you and I are going through.
Also, Jesus shows us how to face our struggles.
--We need God's wisdom. Life brings risks, dangers.
--How to overcome - be victor over all adversity.
--By His resurrection! Only Leader who ever arose!
"Born again" in Jesus, we have His resurrection power.
--We believe in a Living God,"Lives to pray for us."
II. BELIEVE IN A LOVING GOD, WHO IS GOOD TO US ALL.
--God is not only living, eternally; He is loving.
--Loving us so dearly, "He suffers for and with us."
--"He is not willing any should perish" (I Peter 3:9).
--"The love of God is greater far, than tongue or pen can ever tell; it reaches to the highest star, even down to the lowest hell." This song says it all.
Love carries with it some suffering, and sorrow.
--Things happen beyond our control, like the untightened wheel nuts, by an unknown repairman, that caused an unintentional and untimely death, for my dear Mother in a single-car accident in Texas.
--A former policeman, Dad was a good driver, but wheel wobbled out of control taking them in a deep ditch.
--Holding her, my injured Dad prayed, "Lord, Thy will be done." He, my sister and her son injured.
--Blaming anyone, never brought back anyone to life.
At a World's Fair, we watched them make a Persian Rug.
--It hung upright on a pole. Interesting. Lovely.
--Young folks with colored threads worked behind it.
--The artist, on the right side called out a design.
--Mistakes? Sure! But mistakes became a work of art.
--The artist worked these in so well - as God does.
--I do know, "God's ways are higher than our ways."
--Jesus said, "I have come that you may have life..and have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
III. BELIEVE THIS LOVING GOD HAS A PLAN FOR YOUR GOOD.
--God says, "I know the plans I have for you..plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." God wants to help.
--His love is for everyone - our part, follow Jesus.
--Take the Lord's nail-scarred hand, let Him lead.
--Surrender to His holy and perfect will, whatever!
--Live, to serve, and glorify the SAvior, in faith.
Let's not blame - but bless - God, in our trials.
--Face them as Paul did, "For me to live is Christ..to die is gain" (Phil. 1:21). We are with Him.
--"Be holy, without blame before Him" (Ephesians 1:4).
Wilbert D. Gough, ThD. DD. 861