Richard Cecil: Good to edification

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It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. 1 Timothy 1:15-16

“The man who labors to please his neighbor for his good to edification has the mind that was in Christ. It is a sinner trying to help a sinner. Even a feeble, but kind and tender man, will effect more than a genius, who is rough and artificial.”

Richard Cecil in Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers, compiled by Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert (New York: Wilbur B. Ketcham, 1895) 128.

When asked who my favorite character is in Scripture (apart from the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, of course), I always answer: Paul. Most would guess this right as I am a Pauline scholar, and I serve as a modern-day apostle for accountability.

For my part, I love Paul because he understood himself as a sinner, he had a deep knowledge of God who saved him, and he wanted everyone to know that God personally. The power the drove Paul, in part, was confession, that is, proclaiming what is true with humility.

When I convene with the GTP board, regional facilitators, and the staff this week in Dubai, we will focus on the practices of confession, prayer, and fasting. Through these rhythms, our strength will grow out of our weakness. We are sinners co-laboring for our neighbors in nations.

What does this have to do with generosity? The greatest commandment of Christ, to love your neighbor, propels us to empty ourselves in order to edify others. Some do this on a local level, others on a national level, and a few on a global scale.

The key is not to try to be the genius, who comes across as rough and artificial, but to take a feeble, kind, and tender posture. Was Paul feeble, kind, and tender? Rather than go there, just ask yourself if you are those things.

How do we become more feeble, kind, and tender? We become these things by laboring and loving our neighbors for their good and God’s glory. So, go build others up today do “good to edification,” and your generosity will exceed that of the greatest genius.