“Yes, they were pleased to do so, and they are indebted to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are indebted to minister to them also in material things.”
Romans 15:27, NASB95
As the end of the year approaches my wife and I often take some time out to jointly assess where we are in our lives and where we are going. We review our short- and long-term goals. We see if our goals are still consistent with God’s word and His providential dealings with us. We make any adjustments that are needed. We also make an honest assessment of whether we have made progress against our personal goals and the goals we have for our relationship and our relationship with our family. We have found this periodic assessment to be important in our walk with the Lord and in our relationship with each other. This whole process is key to our refusal to just drift along through life. Instead, we want to be like Paul and run this race of life “…in such a way as not without aim…” (1 Cor 9:26).
One of our critical assessments is financial. We want to make our money available to God. He has a lot to say about money in both the Old and New Testaments, so we want to make sure we heed His clear instructions. We have found that the verse above, Romans 15:27, to be key in our financial checkup. Look it up and you will see that the context is that Paul is praising the churches of Greece for their contribution to the poor in the church in Jerusalem. Then in v. 27 he says that these Grecian churches were in fact in indebted to the church in Jerusalem. Some translations say that “…they owe a real debt” (New Living Translation) to the Jerusalem church.
Why were the Grecian churches in debt to the church in Jerusalem? Paul explained. He went on to say that if the Gentiles had come to share in the Jerusalem church’s spiritual blessings then the Gentiles “ought” to share with them in their material blessings. That “ought” word is why my wife and I look closely at where our money goes. “Ought” means that God is saying that we have an obligation or duty to give materially where we are blessed spiritually.
This isn’t the only place where God lays out this principle. In 1 Corinthians 9:3-14 Paul argues that He has a right to be financially supported by the Corinthian church since he had helped them spiritually. Similarly, in Galatians 6:6 we see again the principle that those who are taught the word of God are to materially support those who teach them. This command, that we are obligated to give materially where we are helped spiritually, appears throughout the New Testament.
As the end of the year approaches, I encourage all of you to resist simply drifting through life. Instead take some time out to set some personal and spiritual goals. Consult God’s word. It is full of specific directions for how He wants you to use your time, gifts, talents, and resources.