19 Now this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” 20 He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” 21 And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” 22 Then they said to him, “Who are you, that we may give an answer to those who sent us? What do you say about yourself?” 23 He said: “I am ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Make straight the way of the Lord,” ’ as the prophet Isaiah said. (John 1:19–23, NKJV)
We must know who we are. Christians are the children of God, disciples of Jesus, and servants of righteousness (1 Jno. 3:1-3; Acts 11:26; Rom. 6:17-18). John knew who he was. Being repeatedly asked, “Who are you?” John quoted Isaiah 40:3, declaring himself to be the prophesied forerunner of the Messiah. John was not the Christ; he announced the Christ to Israel (Jno. 1:29-34; 3:28). John was not Elijah. He came “in the spirit and power of Elijah,” and called on Israel to repent (“to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just”) “to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Lk. 1:16-17). Jesus identified John as Malachi’s prophesied Elijah (Mal. 4:5-6; Matt. 11:14; 17:10-12). John was not “the Prophet” predicted by Moses (Deut. 18:18-19). He would decrease as Jesus increased and spoke the words of God (Jno. 3:30-34). John knew who he was. He fulfilled his God-given work. Do you know who you are? If so, then use today to do the work God has given you (Rom. 12:3-8).
8 And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. As it is written: 9 “He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever.” (2 Corinthians 9:8–9, NKJV)
Christians do not give seeking renown or repayment for their acts of kindness (Lk. 14:12-14). The Lord sees unselfish giving, and He will repay it (Matt. 6:1-4). In today’s passage, Paul exhorted the Corinthians to give bountifully, purposefully, and cheerfully to the relief of needy saints in Jerusalem (2 Cor. 9:1, 6-7). He did so by assuring them God would abundantly supply their ability to participate in this good work. Reminiscent of Malachi’s admonition to Israel, Paul implies we cannot out give God (Mal. 3:8-10). We are to trust God to provide our own needs as well as our ability to give to others (2 Cor. 9:10-11). And so, like God, the pious person disperses to the poor without thought of return (v. 9; Psa. 112:9). Let us be bountiful, purposeful, and cheerful givers who trust God to provide our needs even as He supplies our ability to give to others.
You have wearied the Lord with your words; “Yet you say, “In what way have we wearied Him?” In that you say, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, And He delights in them,” Or, “Where is the God of justice?” (Malachi 2:17, NKJV)
As when Israel wearied Jehovah in the fifth century BC, God must surely be weary today when He hears Christians denying His just standard of evil and good. Wearing the name of Christ never gives one the right to call good, that which God calls evil. In effect, this would be like saying, “Everyone who does evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and He delights in Him.” For example, increasingly, Christians deny the sin of immodest clothing offends the Lord, although He has revealed standards of moral purity that forbid the display of one’s own nakedness (1 Timothy 2:9-10; 1 Peter 3:2-4; cf. Isaiah 47:2-3). One cannot “put on Christ” and still “put on” the worldly attire of indecency. Christians who refuse to respect and follow what God’s word declares to be just, cannot expect Him to delight in them, and bless their disrespectful treatment of Him. The God of justice is where He has always been, and He is “ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5). May we never “call evil good, and good evil” (Isaiah 5:20).