Why Have a Plan?


2Cor. 9:1    Now it is not necessary for me to write you about the ministry to the saints, 2 for I know your eagerness, which is the subject of my boasting about you to the people of Macedonia, saying that Achaia has been ready since last year; and your zeal has stirred up most of them. 3 But I am sending the brothers in order that our boasting about you may not prove to have been empty in this case, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be; 4 otherwise, if some Macedonians come with me and find that you are not ready, we would be humiliated—to say nothing of you—in this undertaking. 5 So I thought it necessary to urge the brothers to go on ahead to you, and arrange in advance for this bountiful gift that you have promised, so that it may be ready as a voluntary gift and not as an extortion.


Paul is constantly discipling those new in the faith. In this case he is helping to cultivate a spirit of generosity in the hearts of the Corinthians. He encourages them by affirming the fact that they have already been talking about taking an offering. But now, since they are new and still just growing in their spiritual discipline, he creates an action plan for them. Good intentions without action could result in embarrassment. 

Paul mentions that it’s not necessary for him to write to them about this, or that this is superfluous. Why the need for reiteration about something? Maybe it’s to get the point across. Jesus reaffirmed Peter three times asking him, “Do you love me?” Somehow, sometimes there is a need for reaffirmation and a plan moving forward that helps one to be spurred onward in their spiritual growth and development. 


When my husband and I were first married he was surprised at how often my family might repeat a particular positive event or incident. He jokingly referred to it as “Johnson reiteration,” and I think he found it a bit annoying. At the same time, I think that he discovered that something happened in this positive reaffirmation. The retelling of a story, or the encouragement of a job well done seems to do something to the psyche of an individual. It is the development of positive disciplines or tracks in life and the more that the tracks are reinforced, the more they become the norm for our lives. 

We must have a plan for discipleship, a way in which the tracks or pathways of life are to be laid down. We can’t just assume that new believers will come to Christ and suddenly know how to do everything right. If the church in Corinth had not been prepared for the offering, think how embarrassing that may have been to them! it may have become a hindrance to their spiritual development. 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again — my mom had a saying, “Plan your work and work your plan.” I think that’s pretty good advice for us as followers of Jesus Christ. We must have a plan for spiritual growth and development and then we have to work that plan, and if we don’t, we just may end up being embarrassed. 

When we place a challenge in front of someone, we need to think about the practical ways to make that become a real possibility in their lives. If we don’t, we may become a stumbling block to their faith. All of this takes time and effort, and Paul knew that to be true. He knew about the eagerness of the church in Corinth so he sent brothers to help them take that energy and work it into a plan of action. If they were going to be generous, they probably had to start saving now! If we challenge someone to do something, we need to give them the means to see it accomplished. 

Never take discipleship for granted. Plan your spiritual formation, and then work your spiritual formation plan. 


Lord, help me work out the plan.  Amen. 


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