What are you willing to pay?
I will most gladly spend and be spent for your lives! – 2 Corinthians 12:15
2 Timothy 4:5-8
5 But you should keep a clear mind in every situation. Don’t be afraid of suffering for the Lord. Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.
6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near.
7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful.
8 And now the prize awaits me– the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.
When Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck walked off the field for the final time as a player in August 2019, it was to the sound of boos from fans. Luck, at age 29, decided to retire. He gave up millions in future earnings. The endless barrage of injuries stripped away his joy for the game and prompted him to walk away. His body had been “ravaged by injuries,” during his six seasons in the NFL. He felt trapped in a cycle of pain. He wanted to just stop hurting and enjoy life. Fans criticized Luck for quitting, because football stars are seen as “warriors and gladiators.” As such, they are expected to willingly sacrifice everything to play an extremely violent game.
The mentality of the current generation of players has radically shifted. Many now walk away at a relatively young age. Rob Gronkowski, the New England Patriots tight end, also quit in 2019. He was 30 years old.
It is not lost on this generation of players that concussions and other injuries have left previous players with dementia or crippling pain or both. Some of them are no longer willing to pay such a price.
As Paul shared the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, and people accepted it and believed, they became children of God. But in addition to becoming the Father’s children, they became Paul’s spiritual children as well. He was their father in the faith.
The apostle Paul became the spiritual father of untold numbers of believers in the first century A.D.
2 Corinthians 12:15 I will most gladly spend and be spent for your lives!
As a spiritual father, how much was he willing to sacrifice for his children in the faith? For the Corinthians, he was willing to exhaust all of his resources to contribute to their spiritual well-being. He was willing to give his very life for them. Like most all parents, he wanted the best possible lives for his kids. Their relationship with the Father was Paul’s utmost concern.
The Greek of the New Testament opens up nuances that are undetected in English. Unseen shades of meaning and significance are often revealed. In 2 Cor 12:15, Paul uses a subtle yet sublime play on words. Two different words are used that are translated spend or spent. The first is dapanao which means to spend freely, even squander. In our culture, we might call this “pocket change.” This money is used freely and somewhat indiscriminately for personal desires or wishes.
The second word is ekdapanao. It means to exhaust oneself, give oneself completely, be spent, drained of energy, having one’s own energy exhausted. Paul was not using pocket change, Paul was expending all that he had, even his very life. No price was too great for Paul, he was all in.
What’s in your wallet? What are you willing to pay? What are you willing to spend?
Father, I find myself to be so typical, having to make the same choices over and over again. Encourage me to learn to make a choice once and for all from which I never vary.
When Paul met the Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, everything changed. On that day there were two deaths. Paul died to his former manner of life. He gave up everything that was valuable to him in exchange for the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus his Lord.
But he also died to himself and his personal ambitions and goals. He was no longer living for Paul. He was living for Christ, for the Father.
Galatians 2:20 My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.
Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
Paul was no longer seeking his own comfort or advancement. He was seeking the advancement of the Father’s kingdom. For Paul, living was indistinguishable from serving Christ.
2 Timothy 4:6 For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.
Paul knows that his death is near. After a life of self-sacrifice, only one final sacrifice remains, the sacrifice of death. He sees himself as once again, yet finally laying down his life to accomplish the Father’s purpose.
Paul uses Old Testament sacrificial language regarding a drink offering to portray his fast approaching death. A drink offering was all about repurposing the use of wine. Wine was intended for personal enjoyment and to lift one’s spirits. When it is offered to the Father, it is not used for personal pleasure, but rather it becomes a personal sacrifice. Perfectly good wine, rather than being consumed was dedicated to the Father and simply poured out.
Each of the Father’s children choose for themselves. Regarding sacrifice and dedication, Paul’s choice was a bit more extreme. We are continually faced with choices. We endeavor to make good choices rather than bad. We make repetitive, recurrent choices. Our lives are marked by a persistent query, “will I or won’t I.”
Paul chose only once. Once and for all, he turned over his life to the Father and became His servant. The Father’s will, was Paul’s will. There was no disconnect, no separation.
The Greek reveals a delightful subtlety. Paul is not pouring himself out. Rather, the Greek verb translated poured out, spendo, is in the passive voice. The Father is the one performing the action, Paul is the one receiving the action. Paul is being poured out by the Father.
Was Paul’s life wasted? Absolutely not. Paul’s life was invested.
When Paul first met the Lord Jesus Christ, he made the greatest of all investments a person can make with their life. He was all in. He released control and began “pouring out” his life. And Paul’s life was poured it out until the very end.
Each child of God is empowered to make investments. With an eye on eternity, we are able to make wise investments. What is in your investment portfolio? Is it earning eternal dividends?
2 Corinthians 3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God,
The writer of short stories H. L. Gee tells of a tramp who came begging to a good woman’s door. She went to get something to give him and found that she had no change in the house. She went to him and said: ‘I have not a penny of small change. I need a loaf of bread. Here is a pound. Go and buy the loaf and bring me back the change and I will give you something.’
The man carried out the commission and returned and she gave him a small coin. He took it with tears in his eyes. ‘It’s not the money,’ he said, ‘it’s the way you trusted me. No one ever trusted me like that before, and I can’t thank you enough.’
It is easy to say that the woman took a risk that only a soft-hearted fool would take; but she had given that man more than money: she had given him something of herself by giving her trust. (Barclay)
Your Father trusts you.