Have you ever tried to do something nice for someone and they question your motives by asking you the question; “What is in it for you?”
How does that make you feel?
If you are like me, it makes me feel like they do not trust my motives. It is like they believe I must be getting something out of this, or I would not be willing to do something for them. All too often this is how people respond, and I am sure if we were ready to admit it, we too have reacted in this way.
The Apostle Paul had a great love for the believers that lived in the city of Corinth and he was ready to give all he had, both monetarily and physically, for their benefit. However, they were unwilling to unconditionally accept Paul’s love and accused him of having an alternative motive. It is as if they were saying, “No one does that! What is in it for you?”
In 2 Corinthians 12:15, we read, “I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls. If I love you more, am I to be loved less?” This statement by Paul is small in length but great in love.
First, Paul says he will “gladly spend and be spent.” The word “spend” is translated from the Greek work dapanaō which means to expend and to incur a cost (in a good sense), or to waste (in a bad one). Likewise, the clause “be spent” derives its meaning from ĕkdapanaō which means to expend (wholly), exhaust, or spend.
So, what is Paul saying? He is saying that it brings him great pleasure to incur costs or to completely exhaust himself and his resources for the benefit of the Corinthian believers. Please notice that his labors were not just to ensure that they would live a comfortable life, but that their souls would reap the benefit of his efforts. Certainly, Paul’s concern for those he loved could include the salvation of their souls, but it is also likely that he is also investing in the growth of their souls as well. There were many vices that the young Corinthian believers needed to repent from and grow out of and Paul was willing to “gladly spend and be spent” to help them get there.
Can we say the same of ourselves?
Can you think of someone you know that is struggling as they grow in their faith?
What can we do to help them?
Chances are, we will incur costs. It may cost us some of our time, resources, or both. The possibility exists that they may not even understand our motive and ask us the question, “What is in it for you?”
Nevertheless, do we love others enough to “spend and be spent” for the growth of their soul?
Paul did it, and he did it “gladly.”