THREE IS BETTER THAN ONE (2 CORINTHIANS 8:16-24)
Contemporary research showed a profound connection between giving, altruism and happiness.
For example, a new study showed that executives who gave their bonuses away to help others returned greater happiness scores than those who kept the extra money. Students given $20 in an experiment had higher happiness ratings when they spent the money on someone who needed it rather than on themselves.
Sobriety rates among recovering alcoholics were higher among those who followed the 12th step in the Alcoholics Anonymous program - helping other alcoholics. Depression rates among sufferers of multiple sclerosis fell among those who made a brief "compassion" phone call to members of a control group with the condition. (Helping Others the Key to Happiness)
The church in Macedonia is famed for its generosity and contribution to the needs of the saints. When they saw a need, they offered treasures as well as talent, money as well as men, for the job. A team of three offered to go to meet the church in Corinth, inviting them to do the same and help the relief effort.
When people have needs, how should we respond? Do you harden you heart or hide your talents?
Welcome the Challenge
16 I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. 18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel. 16 I thank God, who put into the heart of Titus the same concern I have for you. 17 For Titus not only welcomed our appeal, but he is coming to you with much enthusiasm and on his own initiative. (2 Cor 8:16-17)
One dark night outside a small town, a fire started inside the local chemical plant. Before long it exploded into flames and an alarm went out to fire departments from miles around. After fighting the fire for over an hour, the chemical company president approached the fire chief and said, “All of our secret formulas are in the vault in the center of the plant. They must be saved! I will give 50,000 to the engine company that brings them out safely!”
As soon as the chief heard this, he ordered the firemen to strengthen their attack on the blaze. After two more hours of attacking the fire, president of the company offered $100,000 to the engine company that could bring out the company’s secret files. From the distance a long siren was heard and another fire truck came into sight. It was a local volunteer fire company composed entirely of men over 65. To everyone’s amazement the little fire engine raced through the chemical plant gates and drove straight into the middle of the inferno. In the distance the other firemen watched as the old timers hopped off of their rig and began to fight the fire with an effort that they had never seen before.
After an hour of intense fighting the volunteer company had extinguished the fire and saved the secret formulas. Joyous the chemical company president announced that he would double the reward to $200,000 and walked over to personally thank each of the volunteers.
After thanking each of the old men individually the president asked the group what they intended to do with the reward money. The fire truck driver looked him right in the eye and said, “The first thing we’re going to do is fix the brakes on that truck!”
What is the “heart of Titus”? Paul never used the phrase “heart of so and so” on any single individual or talked up anyone’s heart in the epistles except for Titus. It was a heart of concern (spoude). Titus was concerned for the church in Corinth. “Concern” (v 16) is a key word (vv 7, 8, 16) that occurs three times in the chapter, more than any chapter in the Bible, and is translated as “complete earnestness” in verse 7 and “earnestness” in verse 8. KJV translates it as diligence (v 7), forwardness (v 8) and earnest care (v 16). The variety of meaning excites me more than it exasperates me. It is more encouraging than discouraging.
The noun “spoude” or “concern” from which the English word “speed” is derived, implies speedy and swift, not slow or sluggish, to act. This word dominates 2 Corinthians more than any book in the Bible, occurring fives times, translated on the other two occasions as eagerness (2 Cor 7:11) and devoted (2 Cor 7:12). Titus had a heart of gold in his concern for others.
Spoude (NIV on left, KJV on right)