I am knee-deep in preparations for Sunday's sermon from Acts 13:1-52, as part of our new sermon series at Calvary. While spending some time in the commentaries this afternoon, I came across this:
Missions! The word reminds us to contribute to the collection of used clothes that are sent to mission fields. We think of second-hand equipment that we no longer use but which workers in distant lands will treasure. We designate sums of money to support those missionaries who proclaim the [good news] in faraway places. We have heard of people who encountered academic difficulties but were told that if they did not make the grade, they could always go to the mission fields. We have known ministers who opted to become missionaries to avoid the stress of the local pastorate.
But does the mission field always have to be the recipient of used clothing, second-hand equipment, leftover money, and mediocre missionaries?
What would happen if we sent brand-new merchandise, if we gave more to missions than to the needs of our local church, and if we recruited the best pastors as missionaries? In Syrian Antioch, the Holy Spirit said to the church, "Appoint for me Barnabus and Paul for the work to which I have called them" (Acts 13:2). The members of the congregation fasted, prayed, and then commissioned its best teachers to do mission work. And God blessed that church beyond measure. In Psidian Antioch, Paul and Barnabas were invaluable for building the infant church. Because of persecution, they had to leave. But instead of sorrow and sadness, the members of that church were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. God blessed them abundantly with his sacred presence and provided for them in their needs.
"God loves a cheerful giver" (2 Corinthians 9:7)
(Acts, Simon J. Kistemaker, p. 498-499, paragraphing and emphasis mine)