Our hope is that, as your faith continues to grow, our sphere of activity among you will greatly expand, so that we can preach the gospel in the regions beyond you. For we do not want to boast about work already done in someone else’s territory.
Thoughts for Today:Paul had a real passion to share the Gospel with people who had not heard it previously. In Romans 15:20-21, he wrote: "It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation. Rather, as it is written: 'Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.'"
In our passage today, Paul is confirming his ambition to continue the God-given work of preaching the Gospel in the regions beyond Corinth -- and also his hope they would aid him financially. The King James Version makes this more clear (verse 15b): "But having hope, when your faith is increased, that we shall be enlarged by you according to our rule abundantly."
I think it is important to note what Paul did not say, "When your prosperity increases, then you can help us out." Their prosperity wasn't the issue. Faith was both the problem and the challenge. Why? Because whenever faith grows, generosity is the result -- not the other way around. Growing faith always leads to an overwhelming desire to give. However, greater wealth does not necessarily mean a person will then develop a more generous nature. For this reason, Paul was hoping their faith (not their prosperity), would lead to an offering that would allow him to go into the regions beyond Corinth to continue preaching the Gospel message.
Questions to Ponder:Does your giving reflect your faith? Do you give God the first-fruit of your income, or whatever is leftover after the bills are paid? Which approach do you think is worthy of God?