It has pleased them truly; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things…
The ties formed by the reception of the gospel exhibited the expulsive power of a new affection to cast out national jealousies and antipathies. Macedonians and Achaians united in solicitude for their destitute fellow-believers in Jerusalem and in an active endeavour to send them relief. Stronger than the bonds of kinship and race were the new feelings of attraction to each other through their relationship to the one Saviour.
I. EVERY BENEFIT RECEIVED LAYS US UNDER AN OBLIGATION TO OUR BENEFACTORS. As stewards of the gospel the saints in Judea had betrayed their trust if guilty silence restrained their lips from communicating to the world the panacea revealed for human ill. But this fact did not set the Greeks free from indebtedness to the Churches which, recognizing their responsibility, had sent to them the message of life. Whatever the reason that has procured us some kindness or favour, gratitude is incumbent upon us. Not to acknowledge it betrays baseness of soul. And the greatest benefits are those pertaining to our spiritual well-being. These are nobler, more satisfying, more lasting than any treasures of gold or marble, any appeasing of temporal hunger or nakedness, or any rescue from earthly distress or danger. The knowledge, the consolation, the stimulus which a missionary, a teacher, or a pastor imparts are of incomparable value. Is it a matter for wonder that, in return for spiritual gifts, men bestow of their carnal things? Those who clamour for a cheap ministry display woeful inappreciation of the riches of Christ. The return which our Lord demands for his own self-sacrifice is that his servants and brethren be honourably treated and succoured. He still regards his poor; hence our collections at the Lord's Supper.
II. To THE RIGHT-MINDED THE DISCHARGE OF SUCH AN OBLIGATION IS A SOURCE OF PLEASURE. Not in order to get rid of any sense of liability; this would be mean, even if possible; but we are glad of an opportunity of visibly certifying our gratitude. The outward expression of any inward feeling is a delight. A generous emotion ministers a pure joy, which ever seeks for ways and means of demonstration. The memory of Christ's gift of himself to us bestirs us to seek out worthy objects, needy souls on whom the mantle of charity may fittingly fall. "He became poor for our sakes/' The disinclination to give liberally melts away under the impulse of Divine love. Men who grudge the demands of the tax-collector will voluntarily, cheerfully contribute to the dissemination of Christian truth.
"The poorest poor
Long for some moments in a weary life
When they can know and feel that they have been
Themselves, the fathers and the dealers out
Of some small blessings; have been kind to such
As needed kindness; for this single cause,
That we have all of us one human heart." That is the office of religion to make the stern face of duty break forth into a smile. The task blossoms into a joy; one kind act prompts to further and larger benevolence.
III. THE NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE REQUITAL MUST BE MEASURED BY OUR RESOURCES AND THE WANTS OF OTHERS. God provides for his family by the mutual interdependence and assistance of the members thereof. Whilst unlimited competition and the survival of the strongest tend to make life's battle of hell, unrestricted helpfulness blesses every heart and laud. The Christian law of supply and demand is designed to correct the injuries and supplement the deficiencies of close-fisted political economy. Power is, rightly understood, a capacity to help, not a weapon of destruction to the weak. The men of leisure can visit the sick and suffering; the rich have ability to relieve the needy; and the cultured may bestow on others the results of their mental diligence. "Such as I have give I you." "It is accepted according to that a man hath." As the world is one great market supplied by every land, so the special distress of one country appeals to all for relief. "We do not well, if this be a day of good tidings, and we hold our peace." - S.R.A.
Parallel VersesKJV: It hath pleased them verily; and their debtors they are. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, their duty is also to minister unto them in carnal things.
WEB: Yes, it has been their good pleasure, and they are their debtors. For if the Gentiles have been made partakers of their spiritual things, they owe it to them also to serve them in fleshly things.