I read this recently and wanted to share it with you all. It is such a beautiful thought:
“The financial assistance by gentile churches for Jewish churches in Palestine (2 Cor. 8–9) was one of the crown jewels of Paul’s ministry. Jew–gentile animosities were at least as active and deadly as racial or ethnic tensions anywhere in the world today. Pogroms (violent attempts to exterminate the Jewish population of a city or region) were not unknown. It would have been easy for Paul in gentile areas to cater to negative gentile assumptions about the Jews, especially when Jews so consistently snubbed or opposed the ministry of Paul and the gentile churches.
“Instead, Paul prayed and lobbied for churches from Macedonia to Achaia and to Asia to set aside money regularly for alleviation of the physical needs of Jewish Christians in Palestine, the hotbed of resistance to the Pauline churches. This amounted to a living object lesson illustrating several profound theological truths: the virtue of doing good to those who persecute you (Luke 6:27–28); the oneness of Jew and gentile in Christ (Eph. 2:11–22); the interdependence of Jew and gentile in the forward progress of the kingdom Jesus announced (Rom. 11:13–24).
“Paul’s conviction was that God could use such kindness to melt hardened Jewish hearts to receive Jesus as their Messiah (Rom. 11:14). The strategy he adopted still has its applications in modern times.” (Elwell, Walter A., and Robert W. Yarbrough. Encountering the New Testament: A Historical and Theological Survey, Baker Academic, 2013.)
In meditating over this quote this morning, I read 2 Corinthians 8-9. I encourage you to do the same. In those chapters, Paul (inspired by the Holy Spirit) paints an extraordinarily beautiful picture of rugged selflessness, simple Christian duty (let’s help each other!), and the tremendous rewards for living a truly Christ-like life. As Paul said to close out Chapter 9: “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!”