An Eternity for Christian Giving
Written by Dr. Ken Hemphill
Many people – Christians included – lives this life like this is all there is. But Solomon profoundly declares otherwise: “[God] has also put eternity in their hearts” (Eccles. 3:11, Holman Christian Standard Bible). Everything man pursues on the earth will disappear like a vapor unless he is rightly related to God. Once reconciled to God, our labors and lives become a gift from God and that will remain forever (Eccles. 3:13-14).
Paul sees god at work in the life of Onesimus, who had run away from his master, Philemon. That’s why Paul uses the more gentle word “separated” (rather that “run away”), which is a passive verb suggesting God was at work, bringing good out of apparent evil. Paul suggests that God was working to transform the temporal owner-to-slave relationship to an eternal brother-to-brother status so that Philemon “might get him back permanently” (Philem. 15, HCSB). What may have seemed a temporary loss has now become an eternal gain since Onesimus is bother brother and a fellow partner in God’s Kingdom.
For Philemon to gain Onesimus as a brother for eternity, he needed to override the temporal slave status with the perspective that Paul is suggesting. As Philemon sees how God was drawing Onesimus’s heart to Christ through this situation, he would be investing in God’s Kingdom, not his own.
Likewise, we have an opportunity to watch God draw hearts to salvation when we invest in His Kingdom. The Cooperative Program has provided Southern Baptist Churches with an efficient and effective method of investing in eternity. The biblical prototype for cooperating giving is found in 1 Corinthians 16 and 2 Corinthians 8-9 where Paul mobilizes the churches in Macedonia and Achaia to join hands in providing for the believers in Jerusalem who are suffering because of a great famine. Cooperative giving requires an unselfish attitude that focuses on the eternal. We are called to give to minister to people we might never see and in a manner that deflects all to the glory to Christ. The good news is Cooperative Giving enables each believer and each church to impact eternity. Let’s gain back all who have been separated for the Lord by giving generously, so we might get them back permanently, for eternity!