Romansby David Cook
I have dwelt for years practically alone in Africa. I have been thirty times stricken with fever, three times attacked by lions, and several times by rhinoceri; but let me say to you, I would gladly go through the whole thing again, if I could have the joy of again bringing that word “Saviour” and flashing it into the darkness that envelopes another tribe in Central Africa.—William R. Hotchkiss, missionary in Africa in the 19th century.
The apostle Paul expressed a similar ambition in verse 20. Such aspiration will show itself in plans and strategies. After exhausting his church planting opportunities in the east (v. 23), Paul planned to go west, and Spain was as far west as it was possible to go then. But Paul would first go to Jerusalem (vv. 25–26) with his collection from the Gentile churches to ease the famine there. The Gentiles were glad to contribute to this (v. 26), for since they had shared in their spiritual blessing, the gospel, then likewise they should share materially with believers in Jerusalem.
So Paul’s plan was to head to Jerusalem and then to Spain via Rome. Without embarrassment, he asks them to financially support his trip to Spain (v. 24).
Likewise, missionaries today must never feel self-conscious about asking for support for missionary endeavours. Such requests are actually opportunities for believers to make investments for eternity, ensuring that they will be “welcomed into eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:9).
Paul recognised that his plans were in the hands of God and he would come only in the blessing of Christ (v. 29). Paul further recognised that none of our plans can succeed without the blessing of God, so he urged his brothers to prayer (vv. 30–33).
There is to be no vestige of pride or arrogant self-dependence in our planning or strategising. God is attracted to human weakness and nothing manifests our weakness more than when we call out to God. The Christian life begins with calling on God (Acts 2:21) and so it is to continue in our calling out to God—for apart from Him our plans are meaningless. Nothing so repulses God as human self-sufficiency, pride, and arrogance, which shows itself in our prayerlessness—our lack of dependence on God.
How valid is it to make plans for the future? What are their limitations?
What does Paul show here about a right attitude to the financial support of human need and evangelistic missions?