by Jameal Addison Hines
Second Corinthians 8:12 says “For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.” In contextualizing the scripture, we see that in the eighth chapter of II Corinthians, Paul speaks highly of the churches in Macedonia. He tells the Corinthians about the Macedonians’ giving spirit and their eagerness and preparedness to give. He exalts them because the Macedonians suffered in extreme poverty yet they wanted to give and had a ready mind to do so. As a matter of fact, the followers in the Churches of Macedonia were the first Christians to give to Paul to aid in his collection for the Lord’s people.
There are many things that I consider when I think about having a “ready mind” to serve. When we think about the preparation involved in having a ready mind to carry out a plan or directive from God, it could involve getting ourselves ready for an event, adjusting our mindset to focus on something important or realigning our perspective on life with God’s plan for our life. Having a ready mind means that we are working towards being prepared to achieve greatness. French physicist, philosopher and theologian Blaise Pascal once stated that “Man’s greatness lies in the power of his thought,” which shows us that preparing our mind to accomplish goals is key to accomplishing goals and serving God. There are three important steps involved in preparing ourselves to have a ready mind to give of ourselves to serve.
Step 1: Become Aware Of Your Talents & Possessions!
The first step to having a ready mind is being aware of and in tune with your possessions, such as your time, money and talents. In 2 Corinthians, we saw that the Macedonians gave freely because they were prepared to do so. Before you give of your time, money or talents, you should take stock of what you possess so that when the time presents itself, you’ll know what you have and you won’t hesitate to help others. For example, if you want to give more of your income to the Church or other charitable organizations, you should take stock of your finances and consider ways to save and budget wisely. If you want to give of your time, you should make spiritual and service oriented activities a high priority and adjust your schedule accordingly.
Additionally, if you want to give of your talents, you should take time to get to know yourself and identify those talents. You can keep a running inventory of your talents and possessions by exploring and taking note of your interests and skills and asking for feedback from friends and family members who are close to you. It could be that you are an awesome listener or you have other talents that you can not easily identify but such talents are crucial to bring souls to God.
Step 2: Focus on the Lord!
The second step in preparing to have a ready mind is to focus on the Lord and to not be eager to receive credit from others for giving. In John 3:30, John, the Baptist exalts Christ by saying “He must increase, but I must decrease.” As we prepare our minds to give, we should emulate John’s example, by focusing on exalting Christ. In doing so we’ll be exceedingly eager to show our faithfulness through our works. In Matthew 6:5- 6 we’re shown another example of humility. In this scripture, Jesus gives the disciples instructions on how to pray. Jesus tells them to pray earnestly and without consideration for the praises of men because the Father who sees them in secret will reward them openly. As we focus on God and our gratefulness to Him, we should draw upon an inner- strength and gratitude that will allow us to give freely to others like the Macedonians that Paul exalted in 2 Corinthians. If we give irrespective to our circumstances and without expecting to receive acknowledgement from man we’ll surely receive blessings and recognition from our Heavenly Father.
Step 3: Do our Best & Let God Do the Rest!
Lastly, we can prepare ourselves to have a ready mind by focusing on what we can do and letting God do the rest. In Exodus 2: 1-10, we learn about Moses’ mother Jochebed. Although Jochebed could not do much for Moses due to her social position as a Hebrew woman, she demonstrated amazing foresight and ingenuity by placing Moses in a position to receive blessings and to fulfill his destiny to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. Jochebed demonstrated her ready mind by focusing on what she could do for her son. After she placed placed Moses in a basket by the river bank, she trusted God to do the rest; and he did. Pharoah’s daughter found Moses there and adopted him; thus fulfilling God’s plan to have Moses raised in the household of the Egyptian royal family. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 3:5-9 Paul teaches us a lesson by showing us that after we do all that we can, we must then trust in God to give the increase and allow our good works to prosper.
In conclusion, the Lord has blessed us to see a new year that is filled with promise and innumerable ways to serve God. So, in 2012, let’s focus on what we can do and prepare ourselves to have a ready mind to serve by taking stock of what we possess, serving to exalt the Lord, doing what we can and letting God do the rest!