After all, children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children. So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well.2 Corinthians 12:14b-15a
Paul gives himself in selfless love because he is the parent and they are the children; he had led them to Christ. It is the responsibility of parents to provide financially for their children and not to expect the children to support them. Many of you are parents, and some of you are laying aside money to be used for your children's education down the road. Your parent's heart desires to provide for the welfare and the future of your children because God has made it that way. One of the great marks of true servants of Christ is that they give themselves without restraint to those to whom they are ministering. They do not ask for anything back from them. What a contrast that is with false apostles. How upset they get if you do not minister in return to them.
But notice what Paul's attitude is. He says,
I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well. If I love you more, will you love me less? That is, these Corinthians were not responding with love. The normal response of children to their parents' care is to love them. But even if the Corinthians do not, Paul says,
I am still going to pour out everything for you. And he indicates that his love is an unqualified form of love. I remember years ago reading a story of a mother who went down to breakfast one morning and found a bill from her son lying beside her plate. He had written it out for her:
- Mowing the lawn: $2.00
- Drying the dishes $1.00
- Raking leaves: $3.00
- Cleaning garage: $4.00
- Total owed: $10.00
His mother did not say anything but went about her work. When the boy came home from school for lunch that day, he found a bill lying beside his plate. It said:
- Ironing clothes: nothing
- Mending socks: nothing
- Cooking meals: nothing
- Bandaging cuts: nothing
- Baking cookies: nothing
That is the apostle's attitude. He does not expect anything in return. It would be nice if his efforts were reciprocated, but even if they are not, that is not going to stop him. That kind of selfless, unqualified love is the mark of a true servant of Christ. You can use it to test the claims of many voices today to determine whether they are the servants of Christ, because it is the invariable mark of those who genuinely love that they love without demanding something in return.
Lord, teach me to serve others without expectation of what I will get in return.
God's love in Christ for us is immeasurable. Are we choosing to be living statements of that quality of love? Or do we put price tag on our relationships?