Sharing Material Blessing with the Church in Jerusalem—Romans 15:25-28
"Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the saints there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews' spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings. So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this fruit, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way" (Romans 15:25-28)
This is a wonderful testament to the heart of God's people. Paul is sharing a marvelous account of believers who came together to provide relief for their brothers and sisters in Christ who were struggling. The Jews in Jerusalem where living in extreme poverty. Because of their confession of Christ they had been thrown out of the synagogue and subsequently lost all connections with families, communities and ways to make a living. As believers they faced extreme persecution and extreme poverty living in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life.
As the result, the Gentile churches that were growing around Asia heard of their distress and took it upon themselves to collect an offering to be sent as relief for these believers. We read about this preparation and Paul's instruction to the churches in I Corinthians 16 & II Corinthians 8 & 9. This is where we get wonderful truths about giving. The Gentile churches pioneered the heart of giving cheerfully when needs arose.
After they had collected the offering they had tasked Paul and his companions to deliver the gift to the believers there. Paul is sharing his plans of returning to Jerusalem to deliver their gift and then journeying on to Rome to visit this growing church. He reminds us of a wonderful truth in the middle of these verses. The Gentile church was overjoyed to share with the poor in Jerusalem because they had been blessed by the gospel that Jews had shared with them. They had benefited from their spiritual blessings and so it seemed right that they would also share with these people their material blessings. This act was completely voluntary on the part of the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. They were overjoyed and willing to give what they had because the gospel they received had changed their lives. So they gave out of a grateful and thankful heart. Paul wrote to these churches and told them, "This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God" ( II Corinthians 9:12 ).
What a marvelous truth to know that our gifts express thankfulness to God for what He has done in sending Jesus. It is another way for us to praise him and show our gratitude to him. These churches were great examples in giving with a pure heart. I am sure as the church in Rome read these words of Paul they were encouraged by the faith of other believers. I am sure they were also excited at the prospect of Paul's visit and encouraged in the truth of this letter. Today, I am thankful that Jews shared in their spiritual blessings so that the world could have the good news of Jesus Christ. Today, I pray that this gospel changes your heart and you dwell in gratefulness and thankfulness to God for what he has done, amen!