The Gift of Earnestness


As we continue to walk through 2 Corinthians 8 & 9 in our prayer letters, I am especially struck by what Paul says about his colleague, Titus.

16 “But thanks be to God, who put into the heart of Titus the same earnest care I have for you. 17 For he not only accepted our appeal, but being himself very earnest he is going to you of his own accord. 18 With him we are sending the brother who is famous among all the churches for his preaching of the gospel. 19 And not only that, but he has been appointed by the churches to travel with us as we carry out this act of grace that is being ministered by us, for the glory of the Lord himself and to show our good will. 20 We take this course so that no one should blame us about this generous gift that is being administered by us, 21 for we aim at what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight but also in the sight of man. 22 And with them we are sending our brother whom we have often tested and found earnest in many matters, but who is now more earnest than ever because of his great confidence in you. 23 As for Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker for your benefit. And as for our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, the glory of Christ. 24 So give proof before the churches of your love and of our boasting about you to these men” (2 Corinthians 8:16–24).

As you can see from this passage Paul is really excited about all his colleagues, especially Titus. God has lead Titus to join Paul and his team in collecting and distributing a special financial gift to the poor saints in Jerusalem. Four times in this brief passage Paul calls attention to Titus’s earnestness. His earnestness is consistent and perseveres in a wide variety of situations (21a). His earnestness grows as he experiences great confidence in his circle of relationships (21b). This earnestness leads Titus to concrete action as Titus freely chooses to join Paul in administering this gift, while the churches who know Titus confirm that he will be a faithful representative. Ultimately the affirmation of Titus’s earnestness is grounded in the fact that God is the one who put the earnestness in Titus’s heart (16). So amidst all of Paul’s very encouraging affirmation of Titus, ultimately he is giving thanks to God who is the source of it all (16).

On this Thanksgiving weekend, I too, am filled with thanks to God for the Christ-centered and Christ-glorifying earnestness he has put in the hearts of my colleagues on Bethlehem College & Seminary’s staff, in the hearts of the amazing student body, and in hearts of the pastors and people of Bethlehem who are a vital part of the tapestry that weaves school and church together. Then, of course, there are all of you. We regularly praise God and rejoice in your earnest partnership as you continue to lay the foundation through your prayers and generous giving and genuine concern for God’s kind work in establishing Bethlehem College & Seminary.

Overflowing with gratitude,

Tom Steller
Academic Dean & Associate Professor of New Testament

Prayer Requests

  1. That earnestness will persevere and abound even in the difficult circumstances being faced by some of our students and staff.
  2. Pray that earnestness will produce generosity and risk-taking in all our lives.
  3. Pray that our students will have opportunity to share Christ with family and friends throughout holiday season that we have just begun.